- An additional 250 wagons are also expected to arrive in the country in the next two weeks from Tianjian in China.
- The wagons will help move more cargo through the SGR within the country and the region within a short time.
Transport CS Kipchumba Murkomen on Monday flagged 50 new Standard Gauge Railway wagons acquired by the Kenya Railways Corporation.
An additional 250 wagons are also expected to arrive in the country in the next two weeks from Tianjian in China.
The wagons will help move more cargo through the SGR within the country and the region within a short time.
Each of the new wagons has a capacity of at least 70 tonnes, enabling the movement of heavy containerized cargo.
“This is laudable as it reduces damage to our roads,” Murkomen said.
The CS revealed that an additional 20 SGR coaches are expected to arrive in the country in the next few weeks.
These comprise of four business class coaches, three first class coaches 12 economy coaches and one power car.
“Of these, six will have provisions for people with disabilities,” Murkomen said.
This, he said, is due to the high demand for SGR passenger services.
KRC managing director Philip Mainga said in the next three months, they will have a total of about 500 new wagons in the country.
Mainga said the plan is to keep on increasing the fleet of wagons, locomotives and coaches so as to make the transportation of goods and passengers more efficient.
“Our numbers are going to increase tremendously and our customers will not have any challenge anymore,” Mainga said.
“We are glad now that through the ministry we have been able to get the required financing to increase our fleet in terms of wagons and the number of locomotives that we use to move cargo from Mombasa to the ICD Nairobi, ICD Naivasha and onward to the region through the border in Malaba, all the way to Kampala and through the lake to Jinja and Fort Bella and Mwanza,” he said.
KRC had not increased the fleet of SGR wagons for six years.
More wagons for the Meter Gauge Railway are also in the pipeline.
He said the interconnection between the SGR and the MGR will become a simpler thing and will enable to move of more goods and passengers within the region.
CS Murkomen said Kenya has to continuously improve its transport infrastructure to remain competitive in the global market.
“Railway transport is a key enabler of the aspiration set out in our country’s long-term development blueprint, Vision 2030,” he said.
The plan is to continuously increase the net tonne per kilometre, Murkomen revealed.
He revealed that the volume of cargo transported via MGR increased by 21 per cent from 787,000 tonnes in 2022 to 1,955,000 tonnes in 2023.
The volume of cargo transported via SGR also increased by seven per cent from 6,090,000 tonnes in 2022 to 6,533,028 tonnes in 2023.
“Passengers through SGR increased by 12 per cent from 2,393,000 in 2022 to 2,727,727 in 2023,” Murkomen said.
He said the numbers need to be sustained and boosted through more reforms and investment.
He called on KRC to acquire more rolling stocks for both the SGR and MGR networks.
Kenya Ports Authority managing director Captain William Ruto said most of their clients have been calling for more wagons to move more cargo.
He said operational efficiency at the Mombasa port has necessitated the increase of wagons as the port experiences more volumes.
In January, for instance, the Mombasa port moved more cargo volumes than it has ever moved in history in a month setting a record of more than 161,000 TEUs.
The highest previously done was in May 2023 when the port did 155,000 TEUs.
“We will also be introducing the reefer wagons. So, we will be able to help our farmers who are doing export of flowers and fresh produce,” Captain Ruto said.
A reefer wagon is a refrigerated railway wagon with cooling equipment installed to help keep perishable produce fresh.
Captain Ruto said with the reefer wagons, transporting flowers from Nairobi to Mombasa will take only five to six hours as opposed to transporting reefer containers by road which takes about 15 hours and is dangerous.
“The volumes that we are handling, coupled with the investment that Kenya Railways have made in wagons will also go a long way in improving our efficiency,” the KPA MD said.
CS Murkomen said there has been a change in customer preference to use of rail and sea especially in Europe when it comes to transportation of perishable goods.
He said the reefer wagons will enable Kenya to transport its horticultural produce by sea to conform to global preferences.
The CS said the government, through KRC and KPA, is looking to increase its freight market share of the port throughput from 26 per cent in 2022 to 42 per cent in 2027.
The SGR has a freight fleet now of 1,620 wagons for moving containerized bulk and unbulked cargo.
However, with increased demand for both local and transit cargo, it is necessary to enhance the fleet, Murkomen said.
The total of 500 new wagons procured by KRC is based on the projected growth of 30 per cent for the fiscal year 2024/2025, according to Murkomen.
The 500 wagons comprise 300 SGR wagons and 200 MGR wagons.
He said the rehabilitation of the Kisumu port has revitalized lake transport and significantly contributed to the growth of the blue economy activities in the region.
Kenya is engaging with Uganda to seamlessly build the SGR from Naivasha into Uganda through the Malaba border to Kampala.