A new dawn beckoned for Kenya when the Standard Gauge Railway, which replaces the more than a century-old colonial railway line, rolled out its cargo services at a colourful ceremony at the port of Mombasa this evening.
The onset of the operation of the most outstanding of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s flagship projects heralds a new dawn for Kenya, the gateway to the East and Central African region.
With the unveiling of the new Railway’s cargo operations in Mombasa this afternoon, Kenyans and the more than the 300 million residents of the region are set to reap the benefits of efficient transportation of cargo.
President Kenyatta waved a giant Kenyan flag to flag off the inaugural cargo train of the SGR shortly after 6.00 pm, at Port Reitz in Mombasa, marking a new era where cargo will be moved twice as fast and at a cheaper price.
The ceremony was witnessed by thousands of Kenyans together with delegations and representatives from across the world.
The image of President Kenyatta waving the Kenyan flag to launch the modern service, will forever remain etched in the memory of Kenyans who aspire to see their nation take it’s place in the new world order of the 21st century.
It took the Jubilee Government two and half years – less than the originally given time and less than the original budget – to accomplish the task of constructing 472 kilometres of the SGR from the port city of Mombasa to the capital city of Nairobi in the country’s interior.
The Government has already embarked on extending the SGR to Naivasha then to Kisumu and eventually plans to have the system extended to Kampala and Kigali in Uganda and Rwanda respectively.
President Kenyatta, who was flanked by Deputy President William Ruto and First Lady Margaret Kenyatta, said every Kenyan should be proud of the Standard Gauge Railway.
“I call upon all Kenyans whatever their political beliefs to celebrate, today we should be together holding hands in celebrations,” said the President moments after the cargo train pulled alongside the Presidential Dias waiting for the flag off. It was song and dance as choirs played patriotic songs apt for the moment.
“This is the Kenya we seek and this is the Kenya we want our children to inherit from us and their children to inherit from them,” said President Kenyatta amid applause, cheers and ululation.
President Kenyatta said the SGR will make the port of Mombasa more efficient and will enhance the performance of the facility where the Jubilee Government has invested more than Sh60 billion in the last four years.
“The foundations we lay today will lead us to a new chapter of industrialisation,” said the President as he promised to fast track the establishment of Special Economic Zones along the SGR.
Deputy President William Ruto said the launch of the services of the SGR was a proud moment for all Kenyans.
He said it was President Kenyatta’s commitment that enabled the Government to complete the project despite the many challenges that it faced along the way including court cases and negative politics.
“It is your commitment that has brought us where we are today and I am proud of your leadership,” said the Deputy President.
Transport and Infrastructure Cabinet Secretary James Macharia said only a focused and committed government can achieve the feat of completing a project as big as the SGR in the manner the Jubilee Administration had done.
The ceremony was also addressed by Chinese Ambassador to Kenya Liu Xianfa, President of the China Communications Construction Company Mr Chen Fen Jian and the Chairman of the Kenya Railways Gen (Rtd) Jeremiah Kianga.