Economy

State eyes Ethiopia cargo after Nanyuki railway line revamp

train

A Kenya Railways train on the Nanyuki-Nairobi metre gauge rail. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NMG

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Summary

  • Kenya intends to use recently refurbished Nanyuki metre gauge railway to transport cargo to Ethiopia from the Mombasa port as it targets growing industrial activities at the border.
  • Mr Kibwana said Kenya Railways Corporation will build a cargo yard in Nanyuki where the freight will be consolidated and ultimately ferried to Moyale by road.

Kenya intends to use recently refurbished Nanyuki metre gauge railway to transport cargo to Ethiopia from the Mombasa port as it targets growing industrial activities at the border.

Kenya Ports Authority chairman Joseph Kibwana said plans are underway to have cargo transported from Mombasa via standard gauge railway (SGR) to Nairobi before being transferred on the Nanyuki line to Moyale border.

Mr Kibwana said Kenya Railways Corporation will build a cargo yard in Nanyuki where the freight will be consolidated and ultimately ferried to Moyale by road.

“Kenya Transport and Logistics Network has conducted the viability study on the route and it has been found to be viable. We want to tap the potential that has been brought by the industrial activities at the Ethiopian border,” said Mr Kibwana.

Landlocked Ethiopia has mainly been relying on the Djibouti port for cargo from overseas but this mainly serves the upper part of the country.

The Nanyuki-Moyale route, which enjoys a good road network, will shorten the distance on consignment that are destined to the lower region of Ethiopia.

Kenya Railways resumed commercial passenger service on the Nairobi-Nanyuki line last year after more than two decades.

The agency has spent billions of shillings rehabilitating decades-old lines to boost the use of rail for cargo and passenger travel.

It injected Sh1.2 billion out of Sh3 billion that was used to revamp the Nairobi-Nanyuki line, with the rest coming from Kenya Pipeline Corporation through the Treasury as special dividends.

Cargo operations on the rehabilitated 240-kilometre Nairobi-Nanyuki started in August last year and targets goods like fuel, fertilisers, hardware, cereals and other farm produce.

Rehabilitation of the railway stretch is expected to increase economic activities in northern and Mt Kenya regions.

The revival of the line that was lastly used in the late 1990s means that produce like coffee and tea destined for export via sea will be transported to the Port of Mombasa directly by railway.

From the Nairobi-Nanyuki metre-gauge line, the cargo will be transferred to the modern SGR line that links the city to the Mombasa port.

Besides the Nairobi-Nanyuki line, Kenya Railways is also upgrading of the old railway track from Naivasha to Malaba, as it mulls over new ways to link the century-old line to the SGR line at Naivasha.