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Social media posts misleadingly compare Kenyan train to Tanzanian ferry

IN SHORT: Social media posts with two photos claim to show the difference in comfort between similar Kenyan and Tanzanian trains. But they are comparing apples and oranges.

On 1 December 2023, a post with two pictures was published on X, claiming to show the stark difference in comfort and quality between the first-class sections of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) carriages in Kenya and Tanzania.

The first photo shows part of the interior of a train with red seats. The second shows Tanzanian president Samia Suluhu sitting in a luxury cabin with monitors and reclining seats.

The post is captioned: “Kenya vs Tanzania SGR first class!” 

The claim follows years of criticism of Kenya's controversial 2017 deal to buy diesel SGR trains, while Tanzania opted for electric trains secured through contracts with Chinese and Turkish companies.

The gist is that Kenyan taxpayers were shortchanged. Some users believed the comparison to be genuine. One Kenyan user complained that “we were scammed”. Some criticised the Kenyan government for poor leadership, even as others said the claim was false.

The claim was also posted here, here, here and here on Facebook.

But do the photos do justice to the first-class comfort of the SGR in Kenya and Tanzania? We checked.

Misleading Kenya Tanzania train comparison

Reverse image search

The first image, with the red seats, shows part of the interior of the Kenyan SGR first class carriage, as seen here. If you zoom in, you can see the Kenyan and Chinese flags at the front. 

We ran a reverse image search for the photo of president Suluhu and found that State House Tanzania first posted it on 28 November.

The photo shows Suluhu on board the new passenger ferry “Kilimanjaro 8”, which plies the route from the city of Dar es Salaam to the island of Zanzibar.

Suluhu travelled on the Kilimanjaro 8 from Zanzibar to Dar es Salaam on 28 November.


The Kilimanjaro 8, also known as the The Falcon of the Sea, was launched in April and has a capacity of 631 passengers in three sections: economy, VIP and royal class.

The images in circulation do not compare the same thing.

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