Kenya Railways Corporation (KRC) is reportedly in a standoff with China Road and Bridges Corporation over the control of the SGR ticketing system.
Reports filed by The Nation show that KRC recommended that it should assume greater control of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) passenger train ticketing system in February this year.
This comes after revelations of a suspected fraud that triggered investigations, in 2018, that involved manipulating the complex booking system to split the ticket revenues between the railway operator and other suspected dealers.
Tickets are the main revenue stream for the SGR and the system is currently in the hands of China Road and Bridges.
Another aspect of the suspected scheme involved creating refunds for tickets already issued to passengers on board for each of the four trips between Nairobi and Mombasa and channeling the refunds elsewhere.
KRC now wants to have more oversight on the ticketing function but this has stalled after the Chinese firm remained unresponsive to formal engagements on the issue.
This is a move that Kenya Railways believes will curb any more cases of revenue leakages after the suspected fraud.
The Chinese operator is only required to bank collections and file returns, an arrangement that blindsides KRC but is backed by an operations and maintenance contract.
“KRC should put in place a system that interacts with the operator’s ticketing system for purposes of monitoring and reconciliations on a daily basis,” reads a document signed by board chairman Michael Waweru.
SGR Operations and Maintenance Contract stipulates that the passenger ticketing function is the responsibility of the operator.This makes it a very tough quest for KRC clinch control of the system from the Chinese firm.
The KRC has noted that the contract had shortcomings that require to be reviewed to allow the Kenyan side much more space for robust monitoring of the operator.
An audit of the whole ticketing system to plug any loopholes that might be exploited by fraudsters was ordered by KRC.
According to the document signed by the board chairman, the KRC management is supposed to “set and implement minimum revenue targets for the operator to meet and in default the operator pays penalties given that the demand for the SGR passenger services has been increasing”
The document also required the KRC management to partner with the operator and address the issue of the quality of papers being used to print the tickets to ensure they conform and are compatible with the control systems in place.