Kenya Railways Corporation (KRC) has announced plans to partner with the private sector to build more cargo storage facilities along the Mombasa-Nairobi standard gauge rail (SGR) line.
The move is aimed at easing pressure on the Sh23 billion inland container depot (ICD) at Embakasi that was launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta last December.
“We are going to partner with the private sector to build more cargo storage facilities along the Nairobi-Mombasa SGR line to improve port evacuation and ease congestion at the ICD in Embakasi,” said Kenya Railways Managing-Director Atanas Maina.
Mr Maina, who was speaking to ‘Shipping and Logistics’ in an interview, said feasibility studies to ascertain the cost of the project are ongoing and will take two months.
Once the study is done, he said, the project will start as soon as funds are available.
Works on the high speed line, he said, will take about three years to complete.
“I cannot be able to tell you the total amount of money we require to implement this project at the moment. All I know is that the amount involved is quite huge and it’s the reason we are partnering with the private sector,” he said.
Currently, the ICD has capacity to handle 450,000 TEUs per year, up from its original design of 180,000 TEUs. It receives four trains daily carrying 108 containers each, ferrying a total of 432 container units daily to the ICD since April 1. There are plans to increase the trains to five from May 1 and subsequently to six in June and to 12 by December.
Last month, Kenya Railways extended the promotional freight charges on the standard gauge railway (SGR) by five months from June 30.
The lower tariff is expected to last until the end of the year as the government woos shippers to embrace the multi-billion shilling investment.
Under the new tariff, SGR freighters pay a flat fee of Sh35,000 for a 20-foot container and Sh40,000 for a 40-foot container from Mombasa to Embakasi ICD. They also pay Sh25,000 to transport a 20-foot container and Sh30,000 for a 40-foot container from ICD to Mombasa.
The rates, however, exclude the cost of handling cargo and returning empty containers.
Kenya Railways introduced a market price of Sh64,500 for a 20-foot container and Sh84,300 for a 40-foot container in January.
The move comes in the midst of a row with freighters who have defied a government directive to transport their imports via the standard gauge railway.
Plans to build more cargo storage facilities come barely two months after Kenya Railways upgraded its online presence to enable confirmation of cargo arriving at the facilities through its website.