Kenya Railways begin final assault to edge out trucks out of the lucrative container business by extending railway line to Mombasa port

According to Transport Secretary, James Macharia, feasibility studies have already been undertaken to extend the SGR to cover berth No 1 to berth No 10.

Expansion works on the standard gauge railway (SGR) has already began and will extend its line deeper to cover 10 berths at the Mombasa port in a move aimed at facilitating easier movement of bulky and heavy goods such as clinker, steel, iron and cement into the SGR, according to Chinese contractor, China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC).

According to Transport Secretary, James Macharia, feasibility studies have already been undertaken to extend the SGR to cover berth No 1 to berth No 10.

“We are extending the railway line along the 10 berths so that as ships arrive, you can have the cargo coming straight from the ship into the SGR train,” said the CS.

According to the transport CS the expansion plans ‘first mile connectivity’ is part of the initial contract signed by the company to extend the railway line between Mombasa and Nairobi and will take about six months to complete.

Currently, Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) offloads goods via cranes once they land at various berths at the Port of Mombasa and later transport them via trucks to the SGR line, costing extra costs and time.

Since being launched  early this year, SGR freight services has struggled to take off and shift container transportation from roads to rails as had been expected, something which forced Kenya Railways back to the drawing board and institute drastic changes including raising fares.

As per the expansion plans, 40% of the Mombasa port’s yard cargo will be assigned to CRBC, a move meant to edge out trucks out of the lucrative container business.

Unlike the defunct Rift Valley Railways which used to charge between US $6,663 and US $1,442 per 20-foot container depending on the weight, CRBC is expected to ask for a uniform promotional charge of US $497.3 per container.

The China Road and Bridge Corporation, is currently constructing phase 2A of the 120km Nairobi Naivasha line that is estimated to cost US $1.5bn, to be followed later by phase 2B which will further extend the line to the lake city of Kisumu at an estimated cost of US $696.2m.

The project will be financed by the Exim Bank of China.

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