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SGR improves cargo evacuation as turnaround period improves

By Murimi Mutiga
Sunday, October 20th, 2019

Kenya is betting on speedy evacuation of cargo from Kilindini through the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) to improve competitiveness of the Port of Mombasa.

With the teething problems experienced during the commencement of SGR operations and the expansion of the Inland Container Depot  Nairobi (ICDN) having been addressed, the government says cargo dwell time has reduced thus arousing renewed interests from shippers.

Already 313,904 containers have been evacuated through the rail between January and September.

In  July ,Kenya Ports Authority hauled the highest number of container through SGR, with 39,817 twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEUs) being evacuated. The month of August followed closely with 36,951 TEUs.

Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia said the ICD has been expanded and as a result  cargo handled at the depot has increased tremendously. 

Teething problems

“We have also solved most of the teething problems experienced during the commencement of operations of the SGR, and the expansion of ICDN,” he said.

The CS explained that average train turnaround time has reduced from 10 hours to 7.5 hours, while the truck turnaround time has declined from nine hours to five hours.

“The average cargo dwell time has also reduced from 11 days to seven days for imports and from four days to 2.5 days for exports,” the CS said.

Macharia said that 60 per cent of cargo is still being transported via trucks to various upcountry destinations leaving 40 per cent to the train.

He noted that SGR has continued to improve transportation of cargo and passengers between Mombasa and Nairobi. 

“It is important to note that even as we encourage use of the SGR, at full capacity it can only move 40 per cent of the total traffic passing through the Port of Mombasa, leaving the remaining 60 per cent to be transported by road,” said the CS.

“Contrary to the concerns raised by some stakeholders, the SGR will not kill road transport but merely supplement it so as to facilitate the seamless movement of goods and people,” Macharia added. 

Kenya Ports Authority  Managing Director Daniel Manduku agreed that  SGR has created a seamless cargo evacuation system from the Port of Mombasa.

He noted that ongoing port expansion and  creation of Special Economic Zones will open up new job opportunities for Kenyans.

Enjoying shipping

Speedy evacuation of cargo from the Port of Mombasa, according to KPA boss has helped improve the competitiveness of the facility and importers are enjoying shipping their goods through the harbor.

The completion of relief line two extending from berth 11 to 18 will help evacuate up to six million tonnes of conventional cargo annually according to the authorities.

The 2.8 kilometres relief line two is targeted to load 200,000 units of motor vehicles directly from vessels for transportation via rail to other parts of the country. The line targets bulk cargo such as fertiliser, clinker and grains.

Cargo clearance

Manduku said initial under-capacity at the Nairobi Inland container Depot is now a thing of the past, with majority of port users now expressing satisfaction on speedy cargo clearance.

The Authority looks forward to enhancing efficiency at the ICDN operations for optimum capacity utilisation.

KPA General Manager Operations and Harbour Master  Cpt. William Ruto says the total yard capacity at the ICD is 14,400 TEUs .

Early this year, KPA was on the receiving end following slow evacuation of cargo at ICDN, however, the situation has been addressed with deployment of more staff and equipment.

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