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Puzzle of missing person aboard SGR

Kenya Railways has issued a statement on a passenger who boarded the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) passenger train from Nairobi to Mombasa but never arrived.

Peterson Mwangi Ngunyi, 74, who is said to be mentally ill, boarded the 8am Madaraka Express to the coastal city from the capital’s Syokimau terminus on May 11, 2021, according to his family.

Mwangi’s daughter Tabitha says he went missing after a ticket misunderstanding with the Kenya Railways crew despite having a valid ticket.

It is alleged he was ejected out of the train as he had an invalid ticket.

How he managed to beat the stringent checks through the Nairobi terminal using an invalid ticket, only to be kicked out of the train along the way is the biggest puzzle that has brought Kenya Railways and the train’s Chinese operator to fresh public scrutiny.

“He is 74-years-old and he is suffering from mild memory loss and a little aggressive when confronted but not physically and to be clear my dad had a valid ticket which was printed in Nairobi by my brother who took him to the station and made sure he’d passed all the security checkpoints otherwise they could not have allowed him in without a valid ticket,” she stated.

However, Kenya Railways’ statement, argues Mwangi was found with an invalid ticket.

“The invalid ticket belonged to a passenger who’d travelled the previous day from Mombasa to Nairobi,” Kenya Railways said in a statement.

But the parastatal doesn’t explain how Mwangi could go through all the checks at the Nairobi terminus before getting on the train with an invalid ticket.

According to KR procedure, any passenger found with an invalid ticket on the train is required to either pay for the ticket, payable at the destination, or alight at the nearest railway station.

“To assist Mwangi, the train crew requested him to reach out to a family member to pay for his journey but he neither had a phone nor any contact through which he could get assistance,” the statement read.

The corporation pointed out that Mwangi willingly opted to alight at Athi River station. Further, they affirmed that the crew did not have any knowledge of Mwangi’s condition.

Kenya Railways insists it was not notified that the passenger had any special needs and that the procedure requires that any person in need of special attention should be accompanied by their kin or if travelling unaccompanied, the kin should notify the train crew ahead of time.

“We wish to clarify that KR officers treated the passenger with the utmost respect and followed the necessary procedures put in place when such incidents occur,” Kenya Railways said.

“We wish to notify our esteemed customers that we do not take this matter lightly and are working closely with the police who have circulated the missing person report to all police stations countrywide in the hope of reuniting Mwangi with his family,” the authority added.

The corporation noted that the crew is working closely with the police in order to reunite Mwangi with his family.

Mwangi’s family has since filed a missing person’s report with the police.