Lobby resists State's policy on railway

A cargo train
A cargo train arrives at the Inland Container Depot, Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The government should not insist on cargo being transported by the new railway line, players have said. A lobby group, the Container Freight Station Association (CFSA), said promoting the services of standard gauge railway to users of the port at the expense of other road transporters was creating congestion at the port of Mombasa.

The operators termed the government’s favour of SGR as going against the tenets of fair competition. “Container Freight Stations form a major infrastructural component in this framework, primarily contributing towards decongesting the port and enhancement of handling capacity,” said CFSA chief executive Daniel Nzeki in a statement Friday.

There are about 14 licensed CFSs by the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) at the Port of Mombasa. Before a firm can operate as a freight station, it must have an area of more than 2.5 hectares, located within 10 kilometres from the port, have access to a rail siding, generate no less than Sh100 million in customs revenue and have adequate office facilities and equipment for CFS operations.

The Nairobi section of the SGR, completed last year at a cost of Sh327 billion, launched its freight service in January. To date, eight freight trains are received at the Inland Container Depot in Embakasi (ICD) at Embakasi in Nairobi carrying 108 containers each. They ferry a total of 432 container units daily to the ICD since April 1.

Freighters have been paying a flat fee of Sh35,000 for a 20-foot container and Sh40,000 for a 40-foot container from Mombasa to ICD.

The Kenya Railways has also been charging Sh25,000 to transport a 20-foot container and Sh30, 000 for a 40-foot container from ICD to Mombasa.