SGR freight services steady despite low vessel numbers

Cargo haulage on the Standard Gauge Railway has remained steady despite a decrease in the number of vessels calling at the Port of Mombasa. Total cargo tonnage was at 378,977 tonnes in the month of June, a slight drop from 383,109 tonnes that had been recorded in May and 451,208 tonnes in April, with Kenya Railways Corporation affirming  stable operations in the three months. A report by the corporation indicates that daily wagon supply fluctuated between 400 to 500 in the period under review, with the May and June period seeing depressed volumes due to lower vessel numbers.

“To enhance cargo evacuations, Kenya Railways and the SGR operator, Afristar have ensured that the double-decker stacking of 80 wagons are utilised to full carriage capacity, with each of the two trains conveying 152 TEUs per trip to the Inland Container Deport in Nairobi,” Kenya Railways said in a statement. Meanwhile, a special tandem double Engines train hauling 70 wagons of 140 TEUs per haulage has been added to reduce any possible cargo pile up at the Port of Mombasa. Out of the total freight carried by the SGR operator Afristar in June, bulk cargo accounted for 115,920 tonnes, with containerised cargo registering a tonnage of 263,057.

The SGR performance between June 2020 and June 2021 had a total TEUs of  284,815,bulk cargo tonnage at 366,008 while the total tonnage for the fiscal year was 4,584,173 tonnes. The performance has been pegged on among others, close cooperation between Kenya Railways and other partner cargo logistics agencies among them Kenya Ports Authority and Kenya Revenue Authority. This has enabled direct, ex-hooks loading of cargo onto wagons (from the ship) and off-take of the same to the Inland Container Depots (ICDs) of Nairobi and Naivasha, without delays.

“We are impressed by our performance and the level of cooperation we continue to receive from our partner agencies within the transport corridor. We expect significant improvements once ongoing infrastructure improvement and expansion projects are commissioned,”Kenya Railways managing director Philip Mainga said. Some of the ongoing projects is the almost complete SGR Meter Gauge Railway(MGR) link between the Longonot Station and the Naivasha ICD, which will allow for seamless integration of services between the two networks to facilitate last mile delivery, especially of transit cargo destined for Uganda.

Rehabilitation of the Naivasha-Nakuru-Kisumu line is progressing well and on course to meet its target of full commissioning by August, Mainga said, while similar works on the Naivasha-Malaba line are on course to deliver sustainable evacuation of cargo from the Naivasha ICD for trans-shipment to the MGR. Mainga noted that operations on the recently rehabilitated Nairobi-Thika-Nanyuki line were proceeding well for both passenger and freight cargo. The Port of Kisumu also continues to provide a vital link, through MV Uhuru, for the conveyance of petroleum products to Uganda via Lake Victoria ports of Jinja and Port Bell.

SGR cargo services played a critical role in the transporting of equipment and furniture shipped into the country  for the just concluded World Rally Championship (WRC) Safari Rally. Kenya Railways, through the SGR operator, conveyed the special cargo from the Port of Mombasa to the Naivasha ICD, and is the main transport for the return trip. “We were proud and honored to be part of the WRC global series as a partner and freight logistics provider of choice.

We salute both the Kenyan and FIA organizers for a splendid job,” said Mainga, at the sidelines of the flagging off of the rally by President Uhuru Kenyatta at the Kenyatta International Convention (KICC) Centre.