The Irony of Nairobi Commuter Train

By Lillian Sheba

It has been around two weeks since the Nairobi commuter rail services was launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta. Many residents of Mukuru Kwa Njenga have been boarding the train to town and back. This is because it offers a cheaper transport fee and is more convenient than matatus and buses.

Since it was launched, the train has served many people around the city. It costs passengers only Ksh 100 to ride the train to every stage. On the other hand, there is a cheaper, more economical one that many Mukuru Kwa Njenga residents have been using. The train leaves Nairobi Central Station to Embakasi Village station. Mukuru residents usually pay Ksh 40 to Pipeline stage, which is more economical as compared to matatus who charge Ksh 80 Pipeline bus stage.

The Nairobi Commuter Rail Services announced that passengers boarding the trains will be expected to adhere to strict Covid-19 rules and guidelines as required by the Ministry of Health. On the contrary, many Covid-19 guidelines are not entirely observed in these trains, especially the one that serves Nairobi Central to Embakasi Village.

Dennis Ndegwa shared his experience on Facebook, a famous social media site that many Mukuru residents use. “Guys, so today I boarded the train from town to Pipeline stage and I tell you that was a total mess. People were scrambling to get into the train. Once I got in, every seat had literally been occupied so I had to stand all the way from town. It was so tiresome I felt like I should alight at Makadara and take a bus to Mukuru. Nairobi commuter rail doesn’t even deserve the forty bob I paid them,” read Ndegwa’s post.

Another facebook user reacted to Ndegwa’s post. “Man you didn’t know that train is trash?” read Mirriam’s comment. “I once boarded it. It was around 6 pm so I decided to take a train in order to beat the traffic. The train was full to capacity and an excess of like double the capacity it’s required to carry. We were squeezed like goats in a market place, there was literally no place to turn to; zero social distance, zero personal distance. This government is here yapping to us about keeping social distance yet they can’t keep it in the trains.”

Michael Kalwe joined the conversation. “Guys what are you even complaining about, my experience was like a nightmare. Tulijazana kama makondoo. Then there was this girl behind me. We were standing since all the seats were taken. By the time we got to Pipeline station I was already tired, only to realize that the girl stole my phone. See that train is the perfect place for pickpockets and coronavirus. I know this is crazy but I better walk all the way from town to Mukuru. I’ll never board that train,” lamented Kalwe.

Nairobi commuter trail is a good service and many residents of Mukuru appreciates the government for the service since its economical and spares time wasted in traffic: but it should look at the issue of overloading and social distance in the trains. The government of Kenya should be in the front row to fight against coronavirus and protect its citizens, through all its institutions.


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