olume of the cargo being evacuated by rail has increased from 5 percent in 2018 to 21 percent currently due the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) line.
The total volume of the cargo hauled by SGR between January 2018 and January 2021 was 11,960,533 tons, of which 703,445 Twenty Foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) were imports, 42,374 TEUs exports, and 380,477 TEUs being empty containers.
The increased volume is attributed to the projects that have been completed to boost evacuation of the cargo through SGR with the KR and Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) projecting to transport 40 percent of the cargo from the port through SGR.
Some of the completed projects include operationalization of the Naivasha Inland Container Depot last year, which is largely being used to haul transit cargo. Grain Bulk Handlers Limited (GBHL) loading facility and Nairobi storage facility that is connected to an SGR siding has also boosted cargo volumes.
KR also completed extension of a transit shed in Nairobi. The number of containers being cleared at the facility is expected to increase to about 300 containers per month during the post Covid period. The shed is expected to operate on a 24-hour basis during the post Covid-19 period.
The warehouse, also known as the National Cargo Deconsolidation Centre-Nairobi (NCDC-Nairobi), is an expansion of the KRC Transit shed that was launched in November 2020. The new facility will enhance capacity of de-consolidated cargo from the initial five (5) 40-foot containers to (15) 40-foot containers.
Other ongoing rail market share enabling projects include modifications of more wagons to move more containerised cargo, revamping the Meter gauge link line from Naivasha ICD to Longonot MGR Station, Kisumu and Malaba as well as the construction of steel coil carriers (Saddles).
Last month, KR deployed double-stack cargo trains to improve daily cargo evacuation and efficiency from the Port of Mombasa to the ICD in Nairobi. Each train has a capacity of moving a minimum of 154 TEUs.
The Northern Corridor has two major rail networks: The SGR and the Meter Gauge Railway (MGR). The meter gauge rail network runs from Mombasa to Kampala and Kasese in Western Uganda, next to the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The volume of the cargo at the port of Mombasa indicates recovery to pre-Covid 19 period. There is an increased number of ships calling at the Port of Mombasa as international trade picks up after last year’s interruption due to the pandemic since March last year.
This is evidenced by the increased custom collection, largely generated from the port, with the Southern region collecting Sh 200.95 billion to surpass a target of Sh 183.578 billion in the half financial year ending in December 2020.
To improve freight services, the shippers recently asked KR to increase the number of SGR to at least 15, from the current average of eight. Kenya Railways operates an average of 11 trains currently.
KRC has also re-commissioned 518 wagons which had been damaged during loading and unloading. The wagons have been attended to and are back to full operations enabling daily average supply to the port of above 400 wagons for loading per day, according to KR.
Of the 490 high sided wagons initially dedicated to conventional cargo, 282 have been converted to load containerised cargo adding to daily available fleet.
Cargo volume through the port of Mombasa has been on rise. In 2019, the Mombasa port’s overall throughput rose to 34.44 million tonnes in 2019, up from 30.92 million the previous year, marking a growth of 11.4 per cent.
Data by KPA showed that in 2019, the ICD in Nairobi handled 418,830 TEUs, representing a 62.4 per cent growth compared to 257,972 in 2018. In the same period, 4,225 trains were handled at the ICD, consisting of 2,668 import trains and 1,587 export ones.