Vandals cause Sh1.2bn damage to Mombasa-Nairobi railway

Workers pass by a vandalised section of the Kenya sgr.
Workers pass by a vandalised section of the railway on May 27, 2017. Photo: courtesy
In what paints a grim picture of uncontrollable greed, selfishness and lack of patriotism, vandals have carted away Sh1.2 billion worth of scrap metal from the newly built Mombasa-Nairobi standard gauge railway barely five months after the Sh327 billion transport facility was inaugurated.

According to the railway operator, China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC), the economic terrorists have been stealing over Sh10 million worth of steel bars, electricals and fence materials on a daily basis – compromising the safety of passengers who use the Madaraka Express trains.

“Losses caused by vandalism and stealing activities are estimated at over Sh300 million per month since the train was launched on June 1,” said Sia Li, head of public relations at CRBC. “The most targeted items are steel bars, electricals and signals facilities.”

Ms Li said the illegal activities were likely to continue in the future owing to the thriving market for scrap metal both locally and internationally.

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She said vandalism could see wild animals beginning to cross the railway line thereby endangering the lives of commuters.

“The stolen equipment along the railway line jeopardise the safety of commuters on the SGR train. This is risky because lives of passengers are invaluable,” Ms Li said.

The 472-kilometre railway between Mombasa and Nairobi is Kenya’s largest single infrastructure project since independence, constructed at a cost of Sh327 billion co-financed through commercial and semi-concessional loans from China and the Government of Kenya.

The passenger train service that was launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta on May 31 ferries 2,700 passengers a day at a minimum cost of Sh700 – a huge bargain compared to the Sh1,500 charged by buses plying the Nairobi-Mombasa route.

CRBC recently said that it had witnessed at least 140 accidents along the railway after herders broke the security barriers that restrict access to the railway line. This is scary, considering the trains have been operating without an insurance policy, which means that no compensation would be issued in case of any injuries or deaths.