Shippers embrace model that resolves empty containers row


A cargo ship at the port of Mombasa. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Shippers have started embracing the Through Bill of Lading (TBL) freight model to import goods into the country, which is expected to increase cargo being transported via the Standard Gauge Railway trains.

Last week, Maersk Line delivered a freight train loaded with 108 TBL containers to the Nairobi Inland Container Depot (ICD) in a move expected to resolve the issue of returning empty containers.

For goods to be delivered to a destination, the importer has to state the port they want their cargo offloaded. In the TBL, the point of destination is the ICD and not Mombasa port as is the practice currently with the merchant haulage model.

The TBL model will ease the burden of repatriating empty containers which are required to be returned to designated yards in Mombasa.

When freight trains started operating in January, the Kenya Railways and Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) railed containers meant for offloading at the port to the ICD, complicating logistics for importers who had to hire trucks to transport empty containers to Mombasa, incurring additional costs. But with the TBL, importers will now return the containers to the ICD.

READ: KPA wins shippers in push to transfer cargo to SGR from the roads

Maersk Line Eastern Africa Managing Director Mads Skov-Hansen said the direct link between Mombasa port and the ICD in Nairobi offers alternative solutions to transport cargo to trade partners in key inland markets.

“Moving goods shipped by Maersk Line to Mombasa onward through inland corridors in a timely and efficient manner is crucial to our customers. Solutions to transport massive cargo volumes quickly, safely, and efficiently to delivery destinations from outside Kenya gives our customers the ability to better control their supply chain,” Mr Skov-Hansen said in a statement.

Maersk Line is the world’s largest container shipping company with 300 offices in 110 countries, operating 786 container vessels delivering goods to hundreds of ports globally.

The line commands an average of 40 per cent of all cargo handled at the Mombasa port.

Mr Skov-Hansen noted that the SGR is crucial to Kenya as a trade and investment destination and putting in place clearer processes to enhance efficiency in import and export procedures would result to reduced cost of doing business.

“Faster delivery to markets gives local businesses a boost. We will work with our key stakeholders in the industry to enable trade in Kenya by engaging in discussions to find solutions to improve efficiency,” he added.