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SGR cargo records steady growth as international trade picks

Number of train moves between Mombasa and the Nairobi ICD has been increasing.

In Summary

•Meanwhile, Kenya Railways is at an advanced stage on the connection of the SGR to the Meter Gauge Railway.

•This will see flow of cargo from Mombasa to Kisumu and into Uganda by rail. 

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

The Standard Gauge Railway has maintained a steady performance on cargo evacuation, latest Kenya Railways data shows, as international trade continues to grow.

This is after a slow down last year occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic that affected industrial operations and exports by key markets such as China.

During the month of October, the SGR operator, Afristar, moved 221 Madaraka Express freight trains from the Port of Mombasa to the Nairobi Inland Container Depot (ICD), delivering 19,294 TEUs ( twenty-foot equivalent unit) on containerized cargo.

About 190,408 tonnes of bulk cargo was also moved including volumes of wheat, fertilizer and clinker.

From the Nairobi ICD, 1,274 TEUs of exports and 15,582 TEUs of returned empty containers were delivered back to the port.

This is a notable improvement from the month of September, when Afristar deployed 216 trains, moving from the port and delivering 20,824 TEUs and 117,121 tonnes of conventional cargo of various products.

From the Nairobi ICD, 1,353 TEUs of exports and 13,887 TEUs of empty containers were delivered back to the port.

"SGR freight has made significant performance in the short-term following the massive clinker imports that are now being transported by rail for the first time. The boost will hugely impact cargo volumes going forward," Kenya Railways Corporation managing director, Phillip Mainga, notes.

Afristar’s recently introduced special long trains of 75 wagons with a capacity to move 150 TEUs and double deck trains conveying 152 TEUs per move.

This has increased daily container evacuations, enabling direct ex hook loadings from discharging vessels.

“This has improved time on cargo deliveries and enhanced better port performance,” the firm said in a statement.

An inter-agency team comprising KRC, Kenya Ports Authority and Kenya Revenue Authority has been put together to work in harmony to quicken cargo loading process and stem delays for cargo nominated to move via the SGR.

Meanwhile, Kenya Railways is at an advanced stage on the connection of the SGR to the Meter Gauge Railway, which will see cargo transported by rail from the Naivasha ICD.

“The last mile rail service is near completion and rates to serve the link from Mombasa - Kisumu -Kampala and Mombasa -Malaba -Kampala has been put together and is being rolled out for consideration by clients and major stakeholders,” Mainga said.

This will create seamless cargo movement for both local and transit cargo to spur trade and client service needs.

The integration of the SGR and MGR lines is expected to improve the flow of cargo right from the port to the hinterland serving Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan and parts of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

“The link that underpins seamless and efficient rail transport along the northern corridor will shortly be achieved", Mainga said.