Consumer body opposes planned increase of Standard Gauge Railways fares from USD7 to USD12

Inter-county train service which currently charges as low as Sh50 is also expected to go up from April 1 by about 30 per cent.

The consumer body has written through its secretary-general Stephen Mutoro, a protest letter to the Transport and Infrastructure Cabinet Secretary James Macharia opposing the planned increases saying it would hurt consumers and lead to Kenyans shunning the popular standard gauge railway (SGR) services.

“We strongly object to the 71.43 per cent increment which is not only steep but unreasonable,” said Mr Mutoro in a letter dated February 8 to Transport and Infrastructure CS.

Kenya Railways managing director Atanas Maina early this month announced that Madaraka Express fare will be adjusted from Sh700 ($7)  to Sh1,200 ($12) after approvals by the Transport Ministry.

Inter-county train service which currently charges as low as Sh50 is also expected to go up from April 1 by about 30 per cent.

First class tickets which goes for Sh3000 ($30) will however remain the same.

An official of COFEK who spoke to Business Insider Sub-Saharan Africa on condition of anonymity said the price hike was uncalled for and unpopular.

“There is no way one can just wake and increase the fares without consulting or informing other stakeholders even if it is the ministry of transport, as COFEK we are mandated to protect poor Kenyans from high costs of living, the ministry of transport hasn’t provide us with facts or enough reasons to justify the planned increase, we oppose it” he said.

Kenya Railways on its hand claims that the Sh700 was just a promotional price and the price is not enough to meet the operational cost in the short term hence the hike.

COFEK adds that while there may be reasons for the increase, the manner in which it was done was not right and hopes their letter will initiate talks with the ministry of transport on the way forward

“We hope our letter to the ministry of transport will bring them to the table where we can have talks otherwise SGR will beat the logic on why billions of taxpayers’ money was used to invest in the project”

The 472km (293 mile) Standard Gauge Railway which cost Sh327 billion is Kenya's biggest infrastructure investment since its independence in 1963.

At $5.6m per kilometre for the track alone, the  line cost close to three times the international standard and four times the original estimate and Kenya is determine to make the line profitable.

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