We all have heard about the Standard Gauge Railway, commonly known as the SGR. We all know about it because some of us have used it, taken selfies and liked the services on board.
The majority of us know about the SGR because we have heard our politicians preaching about it. They have talked about it in churches, marketplaces and in funerals.
There is no need of me introducing the SGR but for starters, this is a railway line running from Nairobi to Mombasa, with plans to expand it to Naivasha underway.
The launch of Madaraka Express by President Uhuru Kenyatta was accompanied with joy, songs, and dance. It was one of the ambitious projects that Kenya has ever undertaken. In fact, our politician bragged that this was the largest project in East and Central Africa.
Indeed it was the largest project given that we are supposed to pay more than 300 billion shillings for it. But just how much are you as the taxpayer using to run the SGR? And how much is the SGR giving back in returns?
It has emerged that Kenyans are paying 1 billion shillings every month to finance the Standard Gauge Railway. This translates to 31 million shillings every day for the running of Madaraka Express.
Records show that a record 1,338,001 passengers have used the SGR either to or from Mombasa as per Thursday last week. But is the SGR economically viable?
During one year of being into operation, the SGR brought in 1 billion shillings in revenues. This translated to about 2.7 million shillings daily. The SGR needs 31 million shillings daily to bring 2.7 million shillings.
Our leaders have refused to talk about the costs that the SGR is taking in and have instead focused on what they think are the most important things about the Madaraka Express. According to them, the SGR has reduced the traveling time between Nairobi and Mombasa and that it is now easy to do business.
Initially, the SGR was to finance itself something that might not be coming soon. Kenyans now are supposed to pay 327 billion shillings and if the SGR was to finance its own debt, it means it would take more than 300 years to pay off the debt.