KPA to spend Sh600m on expansion of city cargo depot

Standard Gauge Railway trains at the Port of Mombasa. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Standard Gauge Railway trains at the Port of Mombasa. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) has approved the acquisition of 7.5 acres of land for the expansion of the inland container depot (ICD) in Embakasi in readiness for higher cargo capacity under the standard gauge railway.

KPA general manager for engineering services Joseph Atonga told the Business Daily that the move is aimed at adding more capacity on the Sh22 billion facility that was launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta last December.

“As cargo volumes grow, the current ICD is going to be congested and it will become small. So as time goes by, there will be need for additional capacity and that is why we are acquiring 7.5 acres of land at ICD for future expansion,” he said.

“The current market price of land in that area is about Sh80 million per acre. We will, however, negotiate with the owners for a better price.”

The ICD has a cargo handling capacity of 180,000 20-foot total equivalent units (TEUs) per annum, which will be expanded to 450,000 TEUs.

The facility has, however been starved of cargo since it was launched. Mr Atonga said that teething problems raised by cargo owners such as price had been addressed, adding that the SGR would soon be the  preferred mode of transport by cargo owners.

He noted that the piece of land expected to be developed before December will also be used for handling cargo staying at the facility for a longer period. Under this arrangement, cargo owners will be charged a specific amount for storage for the duration their consignment will be at the ICD.

Kenya Railways Corporation is set to run freight trains with 54 double-stack wagons each, carrying 216 20-foot containers each with a total load of 4,000 tonnes on each train.

The State corporation has been given a target of six million tonnes at the Nairobi ICD.

The 25-tionne flat wagons have a capacity to carry a payload of 70 tonnes and will move at a speed of 80 kilometre per hour, taking an average of eight hours between Mombasa and Nairobi.

This will cut the rail transport service by half when compared to the time metre gauge trains took to transport goods between the two cities.

Truckers charge between Sh60,000 and Sh80,000 to ferry a container loaded with cargo from the port to Nairobi. SGR on the other hand charges a flat fee of Sh35,000 to transport a 20-foot container and  Sh40,000 for a 40-foot container from Mombasa to Embakasi Inland Container Depot.

On the opposite direction, KR charges Sh25,000 to transport a 20-foot container and Sh30,000 for a 40-foot container.