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Hundreds of travellers stranded after finding train fully booked

Hundreds of travellers were on Saturday stranded at the Miritini Railway Station when they were told Madaraka Express was fully booked.

They had hoped to take a ride to Nairobi by the 9 am train but were shocked to hear bookings had hit the maximum of 1,200 passengers.

“I can’t believe I will not travel today,” said Stanley Mwangi, who expected to have his first experience in the four-and-a-half-hour journey.

“I have been told the ride is so smooth you don’t realise the train is moving and I wanted to have a feel. I am disappointed, until they introduce online booking, you will not see me here,” he said.

Other travellers who were stranded with their families said the management should provide for online ticketing so that travellers are able to confirm availability of space before travelling to the station.

TRAFFIC SNARL-UPS

There have been concerns over the sorry state of the road to the station, with travellers calling for authorities to quickly fix it.

Those accessing the station have also been caught up in traffic snarl-ups as trucks avoiding traffic between Changamwe and Miritini section of Mombasa-Nairobi highway block motorists ferrying passengers to the terminus.

Passengers wait to board the Madaraka Express train at the Mombasa terminus on their trip to from Nairobi on June 8, 2017. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU
Passengers wait to board the Madaraka Express train at the Mombasa terminus on their trip to from Nairobi on June 8, 2017. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU

Kenya Railways managing director Atanas Maina says a second train will be introduced next month due to high demand, alongside inter-county services that will stop in each of the seven stations between Mombasa and Nairobi.

The Kenya Coast Tourism Association (KCTA) chairman Mohammed Hersi called for urgent measures to address the current teething problems facing operations of the new train service.

ONLINE TICKETING

He blamed concerned state officials of badly executing the project, saying issues like access road to Miritini terminus would have been done three years ago during construction of the project.

“Kenyans are excited and happy about this huge project but let us not allow a few officials to sleep on the job. World class status is not attained on paper, you have to execute it on the ground,” he said.

He said the inconveniences witnessed in bookings would have been curbed through online ticketing.

“Buses have been doing payment via M-Pesa for close to a decade now. In project management, we must always keep in mind functionality,” said Mr Hersi.

He also challenged authorities to speed up construction of a road to the Mombasa terminus and consider introducing shuttle services with capacity to handle a huge number of train passengers currently using tuk tuks, boda bodas and matatus.