Shipping & Logistics

SGR cargo haul stable in first-half despite Covid-19 disruptions

SGR cargo train
SGR cargo train. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The volume of goods hauled by trains on the standard gauge railway(SGR) remained stable in the first half of the year, boosting earnings despite economic disruption due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Fresh data by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) shows that about 1.98 million tonnes of cargo was carried on the SGR between January and June, a slight decline from the 2.20 million tonnes moved in a similar period of 2019.

Earnings from cargo services on the SGR was also steady in the six months to June, hitting Sh5.53million compared to the Sh.5.63 million netted in a similar period of last year.

Most of the cargo, 1.05million tonnes, was moved between April and June — coinciding with a strong demand for medical supplies and food grain after the government imposed a lockdown to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Travel restrictions


Earnings from the SGR cargo business is projected to improve in the second half of the year following a phased re-opening of the economy from a coronavirus-induced lockdown.

President Uhuru Kenyatta on July 7 lifted travel restrictions in and out of Nairobi and Mombasa, bringing relief to businesses that had been.

The KNBS data showed that there was already improved performance in June where earnings topped Sh1 billion for the first time since January.

June’s earnings amounted to nearly Sh1.03 billion after President Kenyatta eased curfew hours to 9pm-4am from previous 7pm-5am. Data shows that freight earnings stood at Sh939.11m in May and Sh754.5m a month earlier.

The rise in earnings on the SGR freight operations in June came at a time the country posted increased flow of global merchandise to Sh169.65 billion in June from Sh155.90 billion a month earlier, data collated by the KNBS indicates.

“The value of total exports increased from Sh47.20 billion in May 2020 to Sh48.05 billion in June 2020, while the value of imports increased from Sh108.70 billion in May 2020 to Sh121.60 billion in June 2020,” KNBS data scientists wrote in the monthly Leading Economic Indicators report.

“Total monthly throughput at the port of Mombasa rose from 2.33million tonnes in May 2020 to 2.75million tonnes in June 2020.”