Railway breathes fresh business into towns

The Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) has given much needed fillip to business in townships located along the Nairobi-Mombasa Road. This is evidenced by amplified vibrancy resulting from augmented money flow in the recent past.

Emali Township, for instance, today hosts one of SGR’s two pre-stressed concrete sleeper factories that also manufactures rail line T-bolts.

emali SGR
Emali SGR Station

It will only take you 1 hour from Emali Nairobi using the SGR at a commuter fee of only Ksh 190, saving you money and hours spent on traffic, majority of people working in Nairobi mostly Mombasa Road are preferring Emali as the perfect residential area due to the strategic location.

A casual survey shows the factory has breathed fresh business oxygen into the town suitable for the lungs of a rising population. Rent and other charges are spiraling upwards. Entrepreneurship is making more sense as those with money to invest strive to cash in on increased demand for accommodation, food, social and others that have come with Chinese and local labour inflow.

Nakumatt and Mulleys are some of the retail stores in Emali

Enterprising teachers are busy striking while the iron is hot by teaching English and Kiswahili to interested Chinese with no prior knowledge of the languages important for communication in this part of the world. “I make an extra Sh3,000 per month,” a secondary school teacher in Emali divulged on condition of anonymity.

Bar and hotel business is gradually shifting from an over reliance on long distance track drivers to wage earners. Hotel rooms that previously went for as little as Sh500 in Emali and other smaller towns are now charging between Sh800 and Sh1, 000.

Emali, a town inundated by sugary water melons, mangoes and vegetable products grown by irrigation on farms in Makueni and Kajiado Counties or ferried in from the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro is awake and blinking to unprecedented commercial aura evidenced by a groundswell of hawkers. “Business has been good of late,” effuses mother of one Beatrice Kamene. “This rail construction is a boon for us.”

Emali Township hosts one of SGR’s two pre-stressed concrete sleeper factories

“Many of us have moved to fruit and vegetable business from charcoal due to increased demand from people working on the railway,” says Ngilesi Mbithe, a middle aged small-scale businesswoman who hawks her wares by the roadside.


This site of the second SGR compressed concrete sleepers factory is transforming from over-reliance on truck drivers and buses to a market for honey and fruits sought by foreign and local workers on the SGR. The swelling population has brought with it a high demand for portable water and vegetables.

Being a favorite spot for truck drivers ferrying goods from Mombasa to Nairobi and other inland destinations making it very suitable for Hotels, residential developments. The area has good red soil, water and electricity easily accessible, ideal for farming, settling and speculation.

Original story was written by Joe Ombuor from The Standard on Sunday 6th March 2016

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