SGR passenger, cargo numbers surge after Kenya lifts COVID-19 partial lockdown

The standard gauge railway (SGR) passenger train ferried 19,502 people and 421,745 tons of cargo between Kenya’s capital Nairobi and the coastal city of Mombasa in July following the resumption of services after a hiatus occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, new economic data released on Tuesday shows.

The passenger train service resumed operations on July 13 after nearly three months of suspension following restriction of movement in and out of Nairobi and Mombasa.

The data from the Kenya Railway Corporation (KRC) indicates the rising demand for the service once resumption happened, with the train ferrying 19,502 people in July, portending good times for Kenya’s tourism sector at the Coast.

Similarly, in July, the use of freight service surged as the train ferried 421,745 tons of cargo. The surge signals a rise in business activities, according to the KRC.

The service was suspended on April 7 at a time Kenyans had slowed down traveling for fear of the virus and awareness was low.

But the resumption of the service in July came at a time when COVID-19 awareness was high as citizens adhered to control measures. Afristar Railway Operation Company, the operators of the service, have equally taken a number of measures to curb spread of the virus, including checking passengers’ temperatures, sanitizing them and enhancing social distance.

The Chinese-built SGR has been an important line in movements of people and goods and driving Kenya’s economic growth.