Business

Kenya Railways gets 430 new wagons from China

Tuesday, March 5th, 2024 04:30 | By
Kenya Railways commuter train
Kenya Railways commuter train. PHOTO/Print

Kenya has received another 430 freight wagons from China to boost transportation of cargo from the Port of Mombasa through the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) and reduce cargo turnaround time at the port by two days.

The wagons include 230 for SGR and 200 for the meter gauge railway (MGR). Another consignment of 20 wagons are set to arrive at the port in early May.

Mohamed Daghar, Principal Secretary, State Department for Transport in the Ministry of Roads and Transport said the freight wagons will be used to clear a backlog of 28,000 tonnes of steel ballets and 100,000 tonnes backlog of steel coils.

This, he said, will shorten the dwell time for cargo vessels docking at the port.

 “We want a situation where Kenya Railways (KR) will be scavenging for containers because of efficiency. We want to reduce our cargo turn around by two days and that means more business and more revenue generation,” Daghar added.

The PS flagged off the cargo wagons at the Port Reitz station yesterday. He was flanked by KR Managing Director Philip Mainga and his Kenya Ports Authority counterpart William Ruto.

Enhancing rail services

The new wagons are part of the government’s goal of enhancing rail services and infrastructure for competitiveness in response to market dynamics and evolving customer demands.

Daghar said after arrival of the latest consignment the country will boast of 1,900 freight wagons with MGR having a total of 1,600 wagons.

“We are determined as a country to continue serving Uganda, South Sudan, Eastern part DRC and we are in discussions with Rwanda and Burundi to handle their cargo,” he stated.

As for the immediate neighbour, Tanzania, the PS said the entire MGR, except a small section at Voi section, has been rehabilitated to serve the northern part of the country. Last month, Kenya received the first 50 new wagons to facilitate the operations of the Madaraka Express freight service.

Daghar said the new wagons are a key milestone for Kenya and the region as the Ministry seeks to improve rail services and efficiency. Data from the Ministry of Transport indicates that volume of cargo transported by and Meter Gauge Railway increased from 797,000 tonnes in 2022 to 1.95 million tonnes in 2023.

It also indicates that the volume of cargo transported by SGR will increase by 7 per cent from 6.9 million tonnes in 2022 to 7.5 million tonnes in 2023. While receiving the initial 50 wagons early last month, Transport Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen said some of them would be used to transport perishable products.

For Kenya to remain competitive, we must continue to improve our transport infrastructure,” Murkomen stated.

He further explained the government would ensure there is necessary human capital, operational assets and information systems to optimise the nation’s rail system.  Since the launch of SGR by former President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2017, this was the first time that new wagons were being added.

It was further reported that Madaraka Express would start transporting perishable products which will pose competition to private trucking companies.

Refrigerated containers

Murkomen said 20 of the 50 received wagons have been equipped with power plugins to enable the movement of refrigerated containers.

He noted that this would drive revenues as it was an untapped business frontier.

In particular, the wagons will be used to transport horticultural products to the Port of Mombasa for export.

“We will be able to respond to the preferences of customers from around the world,” Murkomen noted.

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