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Criticism of SGR over death of nurse unfair

The standard gauge railway remains controversial. Questions have been raised about its cost and whether it was good value for money. Its promised expansion all the way to Malaba remains to be seen.

An order by the government that all inland-bound cargo from Mombasa must be ferried by the SGR has met stiff resistance in the coastal city as road transporters have complained of being driven out of business.

The Chinese firm operating the SGR has sometimes been criticised about the services. At one time it had to defend itself against allegations of racism targeting African staff.

It seems the SGR will stay in the news for long. On December 11, Florence Makau was buried at Saba Saba village in Murang’a County. The 53-year-old nurse died after suffering a diabetic attack on board the Madaraka Express train.

A news report on the burial by Citizen TV castigated the management of Madaraka Express, accusing them of “glaring omissions” that led to the death of the nurse. The train operator allegedly failed to fully exercise the duty of care.

The train operator issued a statement saying, “Passengers are not obliged to share their medical histories on boarding and staff do not require this piece of information.”

But Citizen TV reporter Elphas Lagat told viewers the statement failed to acknowledge “the lack of a trained medic on board the train” and refused to address the issue of whether that would be provided to avert similar incidents in future.

“Florence had a diabetic attack on board and due to lack of qualified medics and sufficient facilities on board the Madaraka Express, she passed on arrival at Kibwezi hospital on November 28,” the reporter said.

How realistic is the expectation, suggested in this report, that public transport operators (buses, trains, aircraft) should have qualified medics and sufficient facilities on board to meet the needs of any illness? That implies have a small clinic in a bus or train.

In which public transport service are travellers required to disclose their medical history before boarding?

The Citizen TV accusation that the management of the Madaraka Express train failed Florence seems unfair.

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