REVEALED: Scandal of SGR tickets on sale in the black market
Kenya Railways is investigating claims that Madaraka Express staff are colluding with cartels to buy off tickets days before travel and sell them at a profit on the material day.
The firm’s managing director Atanas Maina said the issue of tickets being resold at a higher price had come to the corporation’s attention and was being investigated.
“We are investigating the matter to establish exactly who are involved in the scam. We are, however, advising the public not to buy the hiked tickets because that will fuel the problem we are having. Let the ticket lapse in the illegal sellers possession and that way they will not engage in that business,” Mr Maina told Nairobi News.
The train tickets are officially supposed to be available to the general public three days before travel.
But when Nairobi News attempted to buy a Saturday ticket on Wednesday, we were told all had sold out.
We requested to buy the next available day’s ticket but were told that Sunday train tickets had also been sold out.
Officially, those intending to travel on Sunday can only start purchasing tickets on Thursday.
When Nairobi News team attempted to purchase a Monday ticket, the ticketing officers said that Monday tickets will only be available for purchase starting Friday, which is three days to the day of travel.
One of the passengers who sought anonymity revealed that she was unable to get a ticket from the Syokimau terminus for the Idd ul Fitr long weekend.
“I was told the tickets had been sold out but as I was walking out of the terminus the guards at the entrance told me they could get me a regular ticket at Sh1,500. Since I was desperate to get to Mombasa and going back to town to catch a bus would have seen me spend more for the taxi and Mombasa bus, I obliged,” the passenger recalled.
The passenger narrated how while aboard the Madaraka Express her immediate neighbours narrated how they too had to buy tickets from the transfer bus conductor.
“They told me how they came at 7am and couldn’t buy tickets but when they went back to the bus to ask if the crew was driving back to the Old Railway Station in town, the conductor offered them regular tickets at Sh1,500,” she narrated.
A first class ticket on Madaraka Express goes for Sh3,000 while a regular ticket is Sh700.
According to the Mr Maina, the train is always full as tickets expire minutes before boarding time. Those that are unclaimed are resold to the travellers already at the ticketing office.
There have been concerns on the fact that the tickets are sold with no passenger names and one is not required to produce any identification before purchasing.
But Mr Maina added that the corporation has limited the number of tickets a single person can buy to five and only allows them to buy more if they provide a list of those travelling to be verified as they board.
“This is just for the time being as our new booking system will require the ID numbers of all those travelling and for the minors we will use care of so that we have the guardian or parent accompanying the minor’s details and if the minor is unaccompanied we will hand them over to the parent or guardian at the destination,” Mr Maina told Nairobi News.
Some Kenyans have in the past shared their disappointments online while others unmasked some people who were buying off the tickets.