Traders bank on Naivasha-Malaba train to ease transport


Workers engage in rehabilitation of the railway lines in Eldoret town, Uasin Gishu County, on February 09, 2021. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NMG

Traders and transport players are banking on the plan to kick off operations between Naivasha Inland Container Depot from the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) to the old meter-gauge railway (MGR) to significantly ease transport of goods.

Traders and players say the move will underpin seamless and efficient rail transport along the northern corridor.

“The integration of the SGR and MGR lines will remarkably improve the flow of cargo right from the port to the hinterland serving Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan and parts of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo,” said KRC managing director Philip Mainga.

Kenya Railways Corporation (KRC) has already started trial runs for freight train services to offer seamless cargo transfer at the Naivasha Inland Container Depot from the standard gauge railway (SGR) to the old metre gauge railway (MGR).

The trial of 22 containers to be ferried to Kampala through Malaba using MGR started this week before full operations can resume in March this year.

This happens as the government continues to address a number of issues to increase efficiency at the Naivasha Inland Container Depot which has the capacity to hold handle 120,000 twenty-feet equivalent units (TEUS) annually.

To entice more users, the government has offered 30-day free storage and quick cargo processing and transshipment of the wagons

In December 2021, KRC announced promotional tariffs to ferry cargo using MGR where a 20-foot container of up to 30 tonnes from Naivasha to Malaba will cost up to Sh39,550 and Sh50,850 for 30 tonnes.

The government a gazetted a 40-foot container weighing up to 30 tonnes in the same direction will cost Sh51,980 while one above 30 tonnes will be charged Sh68,930.

Charges for containerised cargo from Kilindini to Malaba for a 20-foot container weighing 0-30 will cost Sh97,180 and Sh108,480 for a container above 30 tonnes.

The Kenya International Freight and Warehousing Association (KIFWA) Chairperson Roy Mwanthi said KRC might give an encouraging offer to haul cargo but they need to address reverse strategy to ensure containers are brought back on time.

“The promotional rates are good but how will they handle cargo at the end of rail? There is no strategy for the last mile and how empty containers will be returned back as opposed to using of trucks. This might lead to delay in returning empties as a result increase demurages,” said Mr Mwanthi.

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