The Kenya Ports Authority has outlined eight key measures to improve operational efficiency.
In a statement, it said it has introduced sustained train schedules from the port to Nairobi Inland Container Depot being 5.15 am, 11.00am and 4.00am daily.
The transit time is eight to 10 hours.
The handling charges for both local and transit cargo has been reviewed from $103 to $80 per 20ft unit, and from $157 to $120 for 40ft.
For transit cargo, it was reduced from $85 to $60 for 20ft unit and $125 down to $90 per 40ft.
The free storage period for import containers in Nairobi has been reduced from 11 days to four days just like in Mombasa to encourage importers to hasten collection of their cargo.
Head of corporate affairs Bernard Osero KPA has also started a 24-hour work schedule including Sundays, opened a one stop Centre and returned containers that were erroneously sent to Nairobi.
It is using Hand Held Terminals (HHT) to update slots in the yard and trace containers to enhance human resources capacity and equipment.
“We wish to assure all our esteemed customers that we are working round the clock on all system challenges to ensure seamless clearance of cargo.
"We urge cargo owners to take advantage of the free storage period to clear their cargo as soon as it lands at the ICD Nairobi,” Mr Osero said.
The operations of the SGR commercial freight services started on January 1 to decongest the port by increasing cargo off-take by rail from to the upgraded Nairobi ICD, which now has an annual capacity of 450,000 TEUS (Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units).
KPA says the teething problems at the initial stage have continuously been addressed and streamlined.
“The measures taken are compatible with the exponential growth of freight trains from an initial single train to five daily trains ferrying an average of 540 containers to the Nairobi ICD,” Mr Osero said.
KPA in partnership with other players has formed a Rapid Response Initiative (RRI) committee to resolve the operational challenges at the port.
The committee is to give recommendations to resolve system hitches.
The players are Kenya Maritime Authority, Kenya Shipping Agents Authority (KSAA), Mombasa Container Terminal (MCT), LAPSSET Corridor Development Authority (LCDA), Car Importers Association Kenya (CIAK), Kenya Transporters Authority (KTA) and Container Freight Stations Associations (CFSA).
The multi-stakeholder committee is working on a raft of measures to streamline processes at the port and the Nairobi ICD.
“The committee is already reviewing the management of empty containers, transshipment and consolidated containers, loading of containers at the ICDN pre and post scanner delays amongst other issues,” Mr Osero said.
He added: “As we continue with these deliberate efforts, we are pleased to note the measures are impacting positively on the shipping lines.”
Maersk Line, one of the largest shipping lines, it said, “has acknowledged registering tremendous improvements over the last couple of weeks citing the joint efforts by KPA and other key stakeholders.”
“The Lines Managing Director, Eastern Africa Cluster, Mr Mads Skov-Hansen has confirmed that their pricing has not been impacted due to the recent operational challenges,” Mr Osero said.
He said KPA was committed to continued partnership with all players to enhance service delivery and customer satisfaction through enhanced operational efficiency at the port and Nairobi ICD.
The Kenya Railways is to dedicate two trains daily to ferry empty containers from its Nairobi Inland Container Depot to the port of Mombasa to reduce the backlog “and eventually clear it.”
It has already scheduled one out of the five daily trains to ferry empty containers.
Two weeks ago, it said, four out of the five trains were dedicated for the task.
“Moving forward, the authority will be holding weekly consultative sessions with its customers to track the efficiencies of the new measures,” head of corporate affairs Bernard Osero said.
An average of 540 containers of cargo are ferried to Nairobi ICD from Mombasa through the SGR following an increase of freight trains from one to five daily.