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Kenya Railways deal to solve importers' container headache

SGR Cargo train at the Inland Container Depot, Nairobi. file photo | nmg
SGR Cargo train at the Inland Container Depot, Nairobi. file photo | nmg  

The Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) freight service will engage a private firm to streamline the transportation of empty containers from the Inland Container Depot in Embakasi, Nairobi to Mombasa.

The cost of transporting empty containers back to designated shipping lines yards in Mombasa has been watering down gains for importers using the SGR subsidised freight rates.

Kenya Railways (KR), which is in the final stages of inking a deal with the service provider, says the private firm will take care of interchange issues and deliver the empty containers to depots or delivery points in Mombasa.

“As we talk now there are more than 400 empty containers in Mombasa waiting to be evacuated. That is why we want this service provider to provide a complete total solution to the delivery of empties,” KR business commercial and operations team leader James Siele said Friday.

To ferry empty containers back to Mombasa by road, transporters charge between Sh35,000 and Sh50,000 with delayed delivery of the equipment attracting demurrage charges after a few days, according to an agent based in Nairobi.

Mr Siele reckons bringing on another player will solve the problems of delays, survey and checking of empty containers.

“The advantages of using a service provider will ensure the containers are properly checked before they are transported to the Kenya Ports Authority and received at the railways side. It will also enhance efficiency in terms of giving a total solution from the time a container is loaded to the rime it is delivered that will be the work of a service provider.”

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