MOMBASA, Kenya – In its heyday, the Nairobi railway employed some 24,000 people. Day and night, they worked to keep freight and passenger trains running between what is now Kenya’s capital city, Nairobi, and the Indian Ocean at the port of Mombasa.
Nicknamed the "Lunatic Line” and the "Lunatic Express" the railway itself has changed little in more than a century since it was built by the Britishimperial power. Trains still bobble up and down, side to side as they roll along outdated, narrow tracks. Train traffic, derailment and other delays strand cars for hours in the middle of a national park.
But the railway’s workforce has shrunken immensely: Today, the Rift Valley Railways Consortium employs only 3,000 people. They include the usual conductors, engineers, janitors and ticketing booth clerks like Roselyn Mwende.