The launch of services on the standard gauge railway (SGR) from Mombasa to Naivasha is a welcome move given the speed at which goods will be delivered and cleared.
This comes after the passenger service was rolled out in mid-October, showing that the SGR is becoming increasingly useful between Mombasa and the hinterland.
However, the link between Naivasha and the border with Uganda remains shrouded in uncertainty on when and whether it will be made soon enough.
Whereas the old rail route to Kisumu is supposed to be on course so as to connect it with the SGR for the transportation of goods and passengers further into the hinterlands, it is unclear as to what is being done about the link through Eldoret to Malaba.
Initially, the route to Malaba was expected to be rehabilitated in readiness for connection with the SGR in Nakuru but this plan does not appear to have taken off due to high costs.
The question being asked is why the Nakuru-Malaba route should cost Sh21 billion yet the one to Kisumu will cost only Sh3.8 billion, given that the distance covered by the two routes are not drastically different.
The State ought to find an alternative to the earlier plan for rehabilitating the rail route to Malaba without further delay because the benefits from transporting goods and passengers to Naivasha will only be fully realised when they are able to reach Western Kenya and the neighbouring countries safely, quickly and cost-efficiently if they can use a renovated rail link.
The cheaper alternative of rehabilitating the existing networks should be pursued more aggressively since full benefits of the SGR will not be realised without the goods to Western Kenya and those intended for export reaching their destinations smoothly.