It is a big sigh of relief for commuters who intend to move between Nairobi, Kisumu and through to Butere following expected re-launch of commercial passenger service on the route after a 13-year hiatus.
Resumption of operations later this month is due to give a new lease of life and offer competition to public service vehicles that have dominated western Kenya routes.
Kenya Railways Corporation (KRC) Managing Director Philip Mainga said rehabilitation works on the Nakuru-Kisumu line are almost complete and will be ready for use by wananchi.
“We will be ready to resume our operations from the end of this month as we make final touches on the 216-kilometre line,” he said in a speech delivered by Kisumu KRC operations manager Mwalimu Disi.
Speaking during the launch of Kisumu Lakefront Development Corporation (KLDC) last week, Mr Disi said the move will increase traffic to the lakeside city and promote tourism.
While Kenya Railways has not released its fare schedule from Kisumu to Nairobi and Butere, it is expected to be relatively cheaper compared to public service vehicles which currently charge between Sh800 to Sh1,500.
“Other than ferrying cargo and enhancing the economy of western Kenya, we want Kenyans to have an opportunity to enjoy their ride in the rehabilitated wagons,” he said. Commuters will have an opportunity to enjoy both the old metre gauge railway from Kisumu to Nakuru before embarking on the fast-moving standard gauge railway carriage to Nairobi or Mombasa.
The 63-kilometre stretch from Kisumu to Butere is also expected to promote trade in the agriculturally rich township situated in the former Western Province.
Mr Disi said construction of the new Kisumu passenger railway station next to Kisumu Cotton Mills (Kicomi) is a clear sign that the corporation is well prepared to roll out the project that has cost a total of Sh3.7 billion.
Known as Uhuru Business Complex, the station has a provision for parking and will integrate with roads and other modes of transport.
“The hub has approximately 50,000 square feet of commercial space and is expected to provide passengers with an enhanced experience as well as create business opportunities for small and medium enterprises and create over 2,000 jobs for the residents,” said KR in an advert on local dailies last week.
KRC has renovated 18 stations, some of which were completely vandalised while others had become derelict due to years of neglect.
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