Naivasha ICD container volumes drop by over 50% in three years

Traders opting for cheaper road transport despite longer transit time.

In Summary

•The facility is underutilized due to low business.

•Neighboring countries like Uganda prefer the use of roads.

Imported steel rolls at the Naivasha Inland Container Depot /GEORGE MURAGE
Imported steel rolls at the Naivasha Inland Container Depot /GEORGE MURAGE
Image: George Murage

The Naivasha Inland Cargo Depot (N-ICD) has recorded a drop in business in the last three years, as traders continue to prefer road transport.

Latest data from the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) shows the number of Twenty-foot containers received in the last three years had dropped by over 50 per cent.

The drop has been attributed to a decision by traders, mainly from neighbouring countries, to continue using road transport to and from Mombasa, which is deemed to be cheaper despite longer transit time.

This emerged when a team of Finland senior officials, led by the Minister for Trade and Development Tavio Ville, visited the facility located off the Mai Mahiu-Narok road.

In a presentation by KPA General Manager Corporate Services, Edward Kamau, a total of 4,070 containers were received in 2022 but this had reduced to 2,422 in 2023.

Between January and May 2024, the number of containers received in the depot stood at 1,675 with the data also indicating that the number of trains had also dropped.

The Naivasha Inland Cargo Depot was built in 2019 and operationalised in May 2020, and it is served by both railway and road networks,”

“The facility has a holding capacity of 4,000 Twenty Foot Units containers and some of the main objectives include de-congesting Mombasa and Nairobi ICD,” Kamau said.

The number of trains delivering cargo to the facility had also dropped from 172 in 2022 to 71 as of May this year, as more traders opt for road transport.

“Since this facility was opened, we have received over 17,000 TEUs, over 500 trains while over 7,300 containers have been exported,” he said.

Despite the dropping numbers, Kamau was optimistic that things would change in the coming days, as the government moved in to support increased use of rail in cargo transport.

He said plans are at an advanced stage to improve the network system, provision of custom warehouses and verification sheds, and installation of customs cargo scanners.

“The Naivasha Inland Cargo Depot provides a unique opportunity to have a seamless flow of cargo especially essential consignments like raw materials and food,”Kamau said.

Trade Mark African CEO David Beer said that the company was supporting the Naivasha ICD to develope a logistics master plan, while enhancing the electrical infrastructure.

He noted that for over 13 years, the company had supported regional countries in ensuring uninterrupted trade flow while maintaining health safety after the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The support has allowed us to put in place next-generation tools and systems and support cross-border procedures, leveraging Finland’s focus on technology,” he said.

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