Nairobi depot cargo doubles on State directive to use SGR


Inland Container Depot (ICDC) in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Nairobi Inland Container Depot traffic last year benefited immensely from State diretcive to haul cargo from the Port of Mombasa to Nairobi using Standard Gauge Railway (SGR).

The depot doubled the number of cargo it handled last year compared to previous years.

According to Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) pre-Covid-19 performance report, in 2019, a total of 418,830 twenty foot equivalent units (TEUs) were handled at the NICD up from 257,972 TEUs in 2018.

Consequently, truckers recorded very low business as they only handled less than 100,000 TEUs from the port to Nairobi and other hinterland regions, forcing them to protest the compulsory haulage of cargo by the SGR.

In June last year, KPA started implementing 100 percent ex-hook railing where cargo was loaded direct from ship to train, enabling the SGR to carry more than 1000 containers in two days.

The report indicates that the country continues to experience unbalanced trade with exports recording very low cargo tonnage. The depot registered a total of 262,895 TEUs of imports from 177,652 in 2018 while only 13,777 TEUs of exports were handled tin the year, an increase from 11,701 TEUs previous years.

Number of empty containers handled in 2019 declined to 42,158 from 68,619 containers in 2018.

KPA acting managing director Salim Rashid attributed the increased number of cargo handled at the Nairobi ICD to improved service delivery and low cost of transport by SGR.

“At the Mombasa container depot, there is good coordination where cargo is loaded direct from the ship to the railway which has reduced time and cost to traders. Due to this, majority of traders are opting to use SGR to transport their cargo over road resulting to increased use of Nairobi ICD,” said Mr Rashid.

A section of traders however cried foul over the directive, leading to an investigation by a Parliamentary Transport committee, which recommended reversal of the order.

The committe said traders should be allowed to choose the means of transport that suit them best.

During the period under review, KPA continued to record an increase of transshipment cargo which also almost doubled from 121,577 TEUs in 2018 to 211,604 TEUs in 2019.

Imports registered decline of 365 TEUs from a total of 601,887 in 2018.

Total export cargo increased by 21,278 TEUs from 574,682 TEUs in 2018 but total combined cargo handled at by KPA in 2019 increased from 1,303,862 to 1,416,654.

Number of motor vehicles discharged at the Port of Mombasa also recorded a significant growth as a result of the anticipated used vehicle five-year rule which was expected to be implemented starting from last year.

The port recorded flat increase in imported vehicles of 123,826 units compared to 123,168 units imported in 2018.

Last year, the government announced its intention to cap the age limit for imported second-hand cars at five years from the current eight. However, the plan was suspended after players expressed concerns that the ministry was making policies without involving them.

The government said the status quo would remain until all stakeholders were involved and the policy was passed in Parliament.

After the suspension in July, the months of October, November and December recorded the highest number of units imported closing the year at 14,808 units from 10,663 units in October.