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Fear grips CFSs as SGR cargo trains engage top gear

Murimi Mutiga @murimimutiga

Container Freight Stations (CFSs) in Mombasa are facing eminent closure after it emerged that the government plans to stop nomination of cargo to the facilities.

The plan is informed by recent expansion of container terminal at the Port of Mombasa, Embakasi Inland Container Deport (ICD) and start of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) freight services. Mombasa port now has adequate capacity to hold all containers arriving at the harbour following the completion of commissioning of the second container terminal and berth number 19.

The ICD has been expanded to hold 450,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) annually, up from the previous 180,000 TEUs thus improving capacity of Kenya Ports Authority to handle cargo.

Containers delivered from the Port of Mombasa to the freight stations has been on the decline, with the first week of February recording 5,783 TEUs, a decline of 1,615 TEUS or 21.8 per cent.

In the same week, Great Lakes and Portside Freight CFSs reported the highest declines of 284 TEUs and 241 TEUs. However, deliveries to Autoport and Siginon Freight registered a growth of 37 TEUs and 28 TEUs. Closure of some of the CFSs could lead to massive layoff of staff working at the dry ports.

Already there are reports of panic among employees in some of the facilities due to a dip in containers arriving for storage. Other stations are reported to have started downsizing their workforce.

However, CFS Association of Kenya chief executive officer Daniel Nzeki has denied claims of layoffs, assuring workers in the dry ports that there is no cause for alarm. “The competition with the ICD is healthy because there is enough cargo volumes. In fact cargo has been on the increase. Claims of plan to layoff staff are not based on any fact,” he said.

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