1. 1. The $3.8 billion, 298-mile stretch of railway is the work of the China Road and Bridge Corporation, a state-owned enterprise that build on Beijing’s behalf in Africa. The Chinese began building the line in December 2014 and completed the first section, the Nairobi-Mombasa line, 18 months early.
2. 2. The Nairobi-Mombasa line is just the first instalment in the Chinese-funded project to improve rail links in East Africa. The line is planned to extend westward from Kenya and into Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Burundi, and northward into South Sudan and Ethiopia.
3. 3. Before the new railway opened, the quickest way to get from Mombasa to Nairobi without the expense of flying was a grueling nine-hour bus journey; the old railway takes 12 hours to complete the journey. The new standard-gauge railway is predicted to cut that journey time down to four-and-a-half hours. President Kenyatta also ordered the state-owned railway company to charge no more than 700 Kenyan shillings ($6.77) for an economy-class ticket.
4. 4. Kenyatta announced that the new railway would be named the Madaraka Express. Madaraka, a Swahili word meaning responsibility or power, is also the name of Kenya’s Independence Day, celebrated on June 1 each year.
5. 5. President Kenyatta has threatened to sign into law the death penalty for anyone guilty of vandalizing the train line. “I want to firmly state today that those who will be prosecuted and found guilty of vandalizing a property belonging to all Kenyans; will face the death penalty.”