Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Sunday surprised commuters of the country’s standard gauge railway by riding the train from Nairobi to Mombasa for the holidays.
The Chinese-built railway line connects the East African country’s two biggest cities and was commissioned by the president in May 2017.
Sunday’s trip was President Kenyatta’s third ride with the train, having ridden it during its official launch on May 31 2017 and earlier this year when he hosted former Ghanaian president John Mahama.
“Earlier today, I took the SGR train from Nairobi to Mombasa, during which I met and interacted with fellow commuters who shared their interesting experiences about the service. I am glad that the SGR train services have enhanced travel for people between the two cities,” President Kenyatta said via his official Twitter handle.
Earlier today, I took the SGR train from Nairobi to Mombasa, during which I met and interacted with fellow commuters who shared their interesting experiences about the service. I am glad that the #SGR train services have enhanced travel for Wananchi between the two cities. pic.twitter.com/75IzePZaVX
— Uhuru Kenyatta (@UKenyatta) December 23, 2018
The SGR is billed as the biggest project in Kenya since independence and is ultimately expected to reach the western city of Kisumu before going beyond the border.
The Mombasa-Nairobi phase of the project was built at cost of $3.8bn, with China Exim Bank providing 90% of the financing while the remaining 10% was contributed by the Kenyan Government.
The railway is expected to play a major role in easing the movement of people and goods around the East African countries, and also boost their economies.
While passengers initially spent more than 10 hours travelling between Nairobi and Mombasa, the SGR train shortened that duration to about 4 – 5 hours.
Since its launch in May 2017, the SGR has ferried over 2.2 million passengers with an attendance rate of over 99 percent.
Uhuru has often labeled the SGR his landmark legacy.
While laying the foundation stone for the project in 2013, Uhuru said, “The project will define my legacy as president of Kenya. What we are doing here today will most definitely transform… not only Kenya but the whole eastern African region.”