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Importers cry foul as SGR cargo promotional tariff ends

Reuben Mwambingu @reubenmwambingu

Importers and clearing agents have described Kenya Railways Corporation (KRC)’s reversion to tariff book rates as a costly and unattractive move to doing business in the country.

The corporation said in a public notice that promotional freight tariffs which have been applying for transportation of loaded and empty containers were to come to an end on December 31 after which the Kenya Railway Tariff book rates would be effective on January 1.

As per the tariff book rates, loaded 20-foot containers will now be charged between Sh25,000 and Sh50,000 for up and downward direction respectively.

Empty 40-foot containers to Kilindini port will be charged Sh10,000 as opposed to Sh15,000 by road. The importers have, however, argued that they still prefer cargo evacuation via road as they find it “cheap and convenient.”

Car Importers Association of Kenya Chairman Peter Otieno described the process of using the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) for cargo evacuation as laborious and costly.

He said clients are forced to incur extra costs from the Inland Container Depot (ICD) in Embakasi, Nairobi to their ultimate destination in addition to returning of empty containers to ICD and demurrage charges in case the container overstays.

“The beauty of using the road is that once you agree on the total cost of, say, Sh80,000 a client is assured of taking his cargo to the final destination and the return of empty container,” Otieno told People Daily in his office.

He said this is better than railway where one could end up paying up to Sh100,000, adding: “Every investor would be attracted to somewhere they will save not where they will incur extra expenses.”

The car importers boss said it is against the above backdrop that the cost of living in the country has constantly raised.

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