Kenyans have been warned to hold off on popping the champagne bottle on the Sh327 billion SGR project as owners and bus companies in Mombasa say it is too early.
The bone of contention seems pointed at the Sh700 fare for economy class which they warn is unrealistic in the long term.
The project was commissioned by President Uhuru Kenyatta on Wednesday and he cited the affordability of the train services due to the Sh700 fare.
The government has come under criticism from some bus owners for “failing to consult” stakeholders in the transport sector before announcing the low fare that could kill their businesses.
They said that there were no proper supports for the project including a road connecting the Mombasa CBD to the Miritini SGR station.
They said that President Kenyatta was unrealistic and political by setting the Sh700 fare which is lower than what buses charge. Bus companies charge between Sh900 and Sh2,500 fare from Mombasa to Nairobi.
According to Mombasa Raha and Buscar director Abubakar Said, bus owners were surprised when the President announced Sh700 as fare for the economy class, and not Sh900 as earlier suggested.
“The President should have considered us because we have invested heavily in the transport sector. It will really affect us, we will definitely run out of business,” he said.
However, Mash East Africa general manager Lenox Shallo said the SGR will cater to its own type of clientele and it serves as an alternative means.
“It is a situation of wait and see. As passenger transporters, we cannot predict what will happen to us,” said Mr Shallo.
He also agrees that the bus business would be affected by the SGR.