World over, freight transport via railway is always cheaper in both short and long term aspects compared to roads but in Kenya the opposite seems to hold.
The main essence of borrowing heavily to build the standard gauge railway was to reduce cargo transport costs and time with an overall impact on improving ease of doing business.
Kicking off with a promotional tariff, later adjusting it close to 80 percent higher and then forcing importers to use the line beats all business logic considering that transport is a major component of business costs, and which are passed down to consumers. The latest attempt by Kenya Railways to cut freight tariffs on railway use is a belated afterthought following demonstrations by truckers against a State favouring of SGR.
It is time the government came up with a working formula that will naturally drive business from the roads to the railway without dictating terms.
It will be hard to convince importers to use the SGR, pay more, waste time and money to take the cargo from the congested and poorly accessed Internal Container Depot at Embakasi to their final destination.