Paul Maringa bans unlicensed group SGR bookings
Hotels and other entities seeking to procure the Madaraka Express tickets in large quantities must be licensed and registered by the Kenya Railways Corporation, the Transport ministry has said as it moves to tame middlemen.
Transport PS Paul Maringa said hotel operators would no longer be allowed to make group bookings for foreign and domestic tourists without approval.
The restriction follows a number of complaints about extra charges middlemen impose on buyers of advance tickets for trains operating between Nairobi and Mombasa.
“We have insisted that any such groups must be properly licensed and especially if they are not tour operators. Further, for hotel operators to be able to do group bookings they must first be registered with the Kenya Railways Corporation,” Mr Maringa told the parliamentary Committee on Transport chaired by Pokot South MP David Pkosing.
By September, just three months after flagging off of the standard gauge railway (SGR), hotels in Mombasa and the wider coast region were cashing in on the Madaraka Express train service.
Mr Maringa said with the exception of schoolchildren, group bookings, consisting of more than 20 passengers, must be made 32 days to the date of travel.
The booking portal unveiled in January gives SGR train passengers an option of reserving seats and paying for their tickets online.
Prior to the introduction of the online booking option, passengers were confined to booking by paying cash at the ticketing offices in Nairobi or Mombasa termini.
The ticket did not bear names of passengers, featured the travel date, travel time, travel class, carriage and seat numbers. The daily inter-county and express trains departure time from Nairobi are are 8am and 2:30pm respectively while the departure from Mombasa is 7:15am and 3:15pm respectively.