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SGR injects life in struggling Embakasi depot

The facility is now getting 49 trains in a week up from four

In Summary

• Last year the Inland Container Depot at Embakasi handled 257,972 TEUs.

• KPA has also recorded improved performance in cargo handling in the last five years.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni with Transport CS James Macharia and Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho in Mombasa
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni with Transport CS James Macharia and Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho in Mombasa
Image: COURTESY

The Standard Gauge Railway freight services have revamped the Inland Container Depot at Embakasi  in Nairobi which was on its deathbed.

Data from Kenya Ports Authority shows the depot was receiving only four trains per week. Since the SGR freight services began, the facility is now getting 49 trains in a week.

KPA Managing Director Daniel Manduku said the depot was handling an average of 30,000 Total Equivalent Units annually, but last year it handled 257,972 TEUs.

The Metre-Gauge Railway, also known as the Lunatic Express, used to transport less than 2 per cent of all cargo passing through the Port of Mombasa. However, which the coming of the SGR the figure has risen to 20 per cent of all cargo passing through Mombasa.

KPA said it wants to increase cargo transport on the rail to 40 per cent.

In a statement on KPA’s Annual Review and Bulletin of Statistics, Manduku said in 2018 one of the major developments was the cargo off take via the SGR from the Port of Mombasa.

"Service provision grew from the initial pilot programme of one train at the beginning of 2018 to a  daily average of seven trains registering 190,726 TEUs of containers transferred to Nairobi depot by the close of the year," Manduku said.

The increase of cargo to the depot, however, came with its challenges as the facility is able to handle slightly more than 3,000 TEUs in its yard. Therefore, KPA had to look for other alternative storage facilities in Nairobi to ease congestion.

Manduku said they are expanding the depot and they have acquired five other periphery storage facilities in Nairobi where cargo that has overstayed will be taken to.

“The expansion of the depot is in tandem with the national government investment in the SGR. It has recorded tremendous achievement in handling of containers," he said.

The depot handled 37,720 TEUs in 2014, in 2015 it handled 29,103 containers, whereas in 2016 it handled 27,603 TEUs and 30,459 in 2017.

“Last year, the depot handled 257,972 TEUs up from 30, 459 in 2017.  KPA now seeks to invest further in inland dry port facilities to enhance cargo evacuation turnaround time from the Port of Mombasa," Manduku said.

Over the last five years, KPA has also recorded improved performance in cargo handling.

Last year, the port's performance grew from 30. 34 million tonnes in 2017 to 30.92 million tonnes, representing a 1.9 per cent growth.

Containers handled at the port grew from 1.19 million TEUs to 1.3 million TEUs in 2018, which represented an annual growth of 9.6 per cent.

The transit market also grew to 11.2 per cent from 8.64 million tonnes in 2017 to 9.60 million tonnes in 2018, Manduku said.

Some 9,605,000 tonnes of cargo passed at the Port of Mombasa compared to 2017's 8,638,000 tonnes.

Uganda has continued to dominate the transit market at 82 per cent of the total transit..

Last year, about 7,889,000 tonnes of goods destined for Uganda passed through the Port of Mombasa whereas South Sudan had 734,000 tonnes and DR Congo had 471,000 tonnes.

Rwanda had 231,000 tonnes, Tanzania 248,0000 tonnes while Burundi had 22,000 tonnes.

Edited by Pamela Wanambisi