Shipping & Logistics

KPA denies row hampering SGR cargo transport

A cargo train arrives at the Inland Container Depot, Nairobi.
A cargo train arrives at the Inland Container Depot, Nairobi. PHOTO | PSCU 

The number of trains ferrying cargo using the standard gauge railway (SGR) from Mombasa-Nairobi have dropped to seven after rising eight last week.

The Kenya Port Authority (KPA) which is overseeing the transportation reported that the number of trains had shot to eight in the better part of last week but reduced following a “number of issues.”

Reliable sources informed Shipping that wrangles between the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) and officers in the container operations department resulted to the reduction of the freight trains back to seven daily.

KPA's head of container operations Edward Opiyo however denied reports that the disputes were behind the unfolding events.

“We only had some small issues with the new KRA officials but those are not in any way linked to the transport of cargo,” Mr Opiyo said.

He noted that the number of freight trains reduced as there were no enough wagons available for transportation.

“The wagons that come from Nairobi are the same ones that we are dealing with but our aim is to meet the target which is seven trains a day and that is the ministry’s target. On a good day we can do up to 10 but it depends on the availability of those wagons,” said Mr Opiyo.

He said since KPA has been able to meet the target, “what I can tell you is that the operations are going on well.”

Currently, a total of 8,000 containers are moved through SGR freight trains every day to the Inland Container Depot (ICD) in Nairobi.

The KPA says it aims at 12 trains daily by December.

Last week, the authority urged transporters to re-engineer their business and take advantage of the last mile opportunity.

Mr Opiyo urged transporters to embrace the freight services due to its speed, cost effectiveness, environmental friendliness, safety and security.

The number of trains ferrying cargo from Mombasa to Nairobi via SGR stood at sixcarrying 654 containers in June before rising to seven trains carrying some 752 containers in July.

About 1,300 containers arrive at the port daily.

Although one cargo train removes 150 trucks from the roads daily, about 3,000 trucks still ply the Mombasa-Nairobi route daily.

Last month, Transport PS Paul Maringa who has since been moved to Public Works denied claims by some importers that they were being forced to use SGR.

Prof Maringa said only goods destined to Nairobi were ferried and that the remaining ones were shared equally among the container freight stations. He urged the road transporters to focus on last mile saying SGR success is good for the country.

He said some 2,300 containers that had been cleared were waiting to be collected by their owners at ICDN resulting to congestion. He said plans were on to ensure goods were collected within six hours after being cleared at ICDN and those that overstay will attract heavy charges.