CONTINUITY

SGR cargo to operate 24–hours, Mainga says

Afristar has been directed to ensure seamless services

In Summary

•Kenya Railways MD Philip Mainga has asked freight business players to take advantage of the SGR and Meter Gauge Railway synergies to leverage their prospects.

•An average nine cargo trains with 44 wagons operate daily from Mombasa to the Inland Container Deport-Nairobi(ICDN) Nairobi.

The SGR Cargo train at the Port of Mombasa/FILE
The SGR Cargo train at the Port of Mombasa/FILE

The Standard Gauge Railway cargo service will continue to operate on a 24 hour basis, Kenya Railways has said, a move that will ensure seamless movement of goods.

Operations on Madaraka Express Passenger Service between Nairobi and Mombasa however remain adjusted to allow commuters beat the 7pm–5am nationwide curfew deadline , where the only one scheduled train operate from each end.

Kenya Railways managing director Philip Mainga yesterday said Africa Star Railway Operation Company (Afristar), the contracted operator of both the Madaraka Express and SGR freight service, has been directed to ensure seamless services during the ensuing period.

This will ensure the country remains in constant supply of imports ,a time when the coronavirus has hit the country.

This, even as global trade and supply network remain disrupted by the virus, which has affected shipping trends and container volumes landing at the port of Mombasa.

“The SGR cargo service will continue to operate as scheduled. Kenya Railways advises actors in the freight business to take advantage of the SGR and Meter Gauge Railway synergies to leverage their prospects,” Mainga said.

The corporation has guaranteed the safety of goods on transit.

“We remain committed to the provision of efficient and reliable freight transport services during this difficult moment,” said Mainga.

Both the passenger and cargo services are available between the port town of Mombasa and Suswa in Narok County, he added.

Afristar operates an average nine cargo trains with 44 wagons daily from Mombasa to the Inland Container Deport-Nairobi(ICDN) Nairobi, hauling an average 900 containers per day.

 

“Kenya Railways wishes to advise all users of SGR cargo services to adhere to all health and non-health guidelines as provided by the Ministry of Health,” Mainga said in a statement.

Since its operationalisation in January 2018, SGR cargo has remained critical in movement of imports and exports, improving cargo turnaround between the port city of Mombasa and Nairobi.

It has also reduced congestion at the port and road, with carnage along the Mombasa–Nairobi Highway drastically dropping.

Officicla data shows cargo handled at the ICDN grew 62.4 per cent in 2019, buoyed by high train turnaround and improved port efficiency.

The ICDN operations performance report shows a total of 418,830 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUS) were handled in the year to December, 160,858 TEUs more than the 257,972 TEUs handled in 2018.

This has been achieved as a result of improved efficiency along the logistics chain from Mombasa to ICDN,” Nairobi ICD manager Peter Masinde told the Star.

Imports registered 262,895 TEUs during the year under review compared to 177,652 TEUs realized in the previous year. This translated to an increase by 85,243 TEUS or 48 per cent.

Exports also grew slightly by 17.7 per cent or 2,076 TEUs to close at 13,777 TEUs compared to 11,701 TEUs in 2018.

During the year, operational train turnaround time averaged seven hours ten minutes.

Last week, Kenya Railways adjusted both the SGR and Nairobi Commuter Rail Service schedules to allow passengers get home before the curfew time.