Transporters should re-engineer their business to take advantage of the last mile opportunities from the integrated transport system spearheaded by the Standard Gauge Railway, the Kenya Ports Authority has said.
KPA's head of container operations Edward Opiyo termed the integration of the port and the SGR as a multimodal transport system that will have economic benefits to the country and the States that depend on the Port of Mombasa including Uganda, Burundi, Congo, Rwanda and Sudan.
Currently, seven freight trains operate between the port and the Inland Container Deport in Embakasi, Nairobi.
Two weeks ago, the Kenya Transporters Association (KTA) said about 500 truck drivers had already lost their jobs because of the SGR cargo haulage from the Port of Mombasa.
“As we speak now, a cargo train carries 108 containers and making seven trips daily. That literally means that more than 500 trucks drivers are currently jobless. Hundreds of trucks have no business to the detriment of our members, who have pumped billions of Shillings into buying trucks, trailers and other infrastructure,” KTA operations coordinator Mercy Ireri said.
But Mr Opiyo said the road transport system has not been compromised by the SGR freight trains.
“Transporters will not lose their livelihood in anyway, they just need to re-engineer their businesses and take advantage of what SGR is providing. The SGR cannot take 100 per cent of the volumes of cargo form the port,” he insisted.
In an interview with Shipping at the port, Mr Opiyo said SGR can only take a maximum of 40 per cent of the volumes of cargo from the port of Mombasa.
“The road transport cannot be strangled in anyway by the SGR. If you monitor what is happening right now, Container Freight Stations (CFS) are also opening up on the other end of Nairobi, and some are in Mombasa but SGR only take 40 per cent, the other 60 per cent goes to CFS’’s and transporters,” he argued.
According to Mr Opiyo, the arrival of a new vessel which docked at the port last week will bring more business to CFS’s in Mombasa.