Home > Projects > Contents

Feature: Chinese-built modern railway fast track to opportunities for Kenyan youth

Updated: October 12, 2023 Source: Xinhua News Agency
fontLarger fontSmaller


A stewardess stands next to the train to Mombasa at Nairobi Terminus Station of the China built Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) in Nairobi, Kenya, Sept. 20, 2023. (Xinhua/Han Xu)

The SGR, a flagship project of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), has created a skills and technology transfer, benefitting Kenyan youth, since its launch six years ago in 2017.

by Naftali Mwaura, Li Zhuoqun

NAIROBI, Oct. 12 (Xinhua) -- For Dennis Ogeto, a young man from western Kenya, a humble upbringing in a rural hamlet could not stop him from dreaming big, and his dream of a better life is coming true thanks to a Chinese-built railway.

A career spanning over five years at the Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) has changed the 33-year-old's life dramatically. Now he is not just earning a living, but also pursuing a career.

"I dream to get a managerial position at the SGR in the years to come and hope one day it will be extended to the Ugandan border so that it creates more opportunities for fellow youth," Ogeto said.

Since joining the SGR in 2018, the mechanical engineering major and former construction worker has come to realize how rewarding his academic efforts could be.

Ogeto is now working in the dispatch section, assembling wagons for the passenger and freight trains that ply the Mombasa-Nairobi and Suswa routes.


Train drivers Concilia, Wendy, Caroline (from L to R) follow the operating procedures with their Chinese instructor Zhang Cheng during training in Nairobi, Kenya, May 17, 2017. (Xinhua/Sun Ruibo)

"The training by Chinese instructors has been very good because when I joined the SGR, I had few skills, but now I have learned a lot of skills," Ogeto said, adding that he has also acquired managerial and social skills from his Chinese supervisors, including better time management, self-discipline, hard work, communication with passengers and colleagues, and respect for diversity.

For Ogeto and many young men like him, the SGR is more than a fast track to convenience, but also to more opportunities, and personal happiness.

The SGR, a flagship project of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), has created a skills and technology transfer, benefitting local youth, since its launch six years ago in 2017.

The railway has been a catalyst for transformation in Kenya, helping to localize its workforce by hiring a growing number of young professionals in key sections like locomotives, track, signal and management.

Lawrence Pius Murithi, another young man from the central Kenyan countryside, is also a beneficiary of the SGR and a deputy superintendent at the rolling stock department of the railway. He is in charge of supervising the track maintenance.

Over the past six years, his work at the SGR has trained him comprehensively. Now earning a decent salary, he was able to purchase land and run a livestock business as a side hustle.


The delegation of envoys visits the dispatch center at the Nairobi Station of the Mombasa-Nairobi Railway in Nairobi, Kenya, Oct. 6, 2023. (Xinhua/Wang Guansen)

"Working for the SGR has improved my lifestyle and I look forward to furthering my education so that I can be in the company's top management," Murithi said, adding that he is determined to help more young people to pursue decent, life-changing careers.

Government statistics indicate that the 480-km modern railway line has contributed to Kenya's gross domestic product growth by 1.5 percent. Kenya's infrastructure modernization has accelerated thanks to input from China in terms of capital, technology and reskilling of local youth.

Stephen Mutua, a 39-year-old father of three, is a proud team leader at the track and bridge maintenance section of the Ngong SGR station, located on the western hillsides of Nairobi.

"I have gained knowledge, especially from the Chinese technicians who have taught us a lot in the areas of management, planning, and inspecting the track and bridges," said Mutua, who joined the SGR in 2019.

In the near future, Mutua plans to return to college for his studies in railways operations and maintenance, and hopefully secure a senior managerial position at his current workplace.

Editor: Su Dan