Steve Umidha @steveumidha
Kenya Railways Corporation (KRC) has announced plans to set up cargo handling facilities along the Nairobi-Mombasa SGR line to improve port evacuation processes and ease pressure on the Nairobi Inland Container Depot (ICD)
It will partner with both local and international private companies to build the additional facilities at undisclosed fee with timelines and location yet to be decided on.
“This is something we are looking forward to. We are partnering with the private sector to build additional cargo handling facilities along the SGR line to improve port evacuation processes,” said Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia in a speech read on his behalf by KR Managing Director Atanas Maina yesterday.
Kenya Railways presently operates five freight trains from Mombasa to Nairobi daily with a plan to increase the number to 11 daily freight trains from Mombasa to Nairobi, in a move expected to further lower freight transportation cost.
Maina said the freight service has significantly lowered the cost of doing business and brought much desired order to the freight transportation sector. Since its inaugural in June last year, the cargo service has ferried more than 19,066 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) of imports and 2,585 TEUs of exports as well as transported back 2,855 TEUs of empty containers from Nairobi to Mombasa.
The company estimates that close to 600 of the current 3,000 cargo trucks using Mombasa road have been rendered redundant with the introduction of the service. It is further hoped that upon full operationalisation of the 11 trains by November this year, about 1,650 cargo trucks will be off the road.
Kenya Railways said that the move coupled with the government’s directive requiring all government agencies and parastatals to use SGR for movement of cargo would see the SGR freight cargo achieve 40 per cent cargo handling capacity.
Meanwhile, “Madaraka Express” has raked in excess of Sh1 billion in passenger ticket sales, exactly one year since its launch in June last year with more than 1.35 million passengers over that period and an overall seat occupancy of 96.7 per cent.
Maina said when Madaraka Express marked one year anniversary yesterday, that the firm is betting big of the ongoing construction of Phase 2A to boost those numbers.
Upon its completion in September next year, three months ahead of its deadline, the project’s second phase is expected to increase trade volumes in the East African Community (EAC) region.