Kenya Railways takes over SGR operations from the Chinese company Afristar

A section of the SGR (Standard Gauge Railway) train in Syokimau in Nairobi. [David Njaaga, Standard]

The Kenya Railways Corporation (KRC) has taken over the ticket, security and refueling operations of the Standard Gauge Railways (SGR) from the Chinese company Afristar.

The acquisition process will be completed by May 2022.

In 2017, KRC hired Africa Star Railways (Afristar), a subsidiary of China Road and Bridge Corporation, to manage the operation and maintenance of SGR.

The operator would have control over the passenger ticket and the collection of revenue. KRC marketed the service at its own expense to find customers. However, the company has been excluded from collecting revenue.

Early last year, ticketing operations were marked by scandals accusing Afristar, the Chinese operator of the SGR line, of conducting largely unchecked operations where train cabins were routinely artificially booked.

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As a result, the Nairobi-Mombasa passenger train service seemed almost always full – a situation that matched the excitement of Kenyans about taking the train – just so agents could later sell the tickets to desperate travelers at premium prices.

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