The Bitter sweet realities of SGR cargo

It has been now 10 months since SGR launched its cargo service line between Mombasa and Nairobi. In the first 9 months Kenya earned a total of $ 16 million causing the operator to double the haulage capacity using double-stack wagons to the Nairobi Inland Container Depot (ICD).

The trains’ daily tonnage has increased to over 800 containers, out of the 1,700 that arrive at the port of Mombasa. The ramping up of the operations has also seen the line ease the government’s payments of the loan to China.

The launch of the double-stack wagons, which Kenya Railways says will double the cargo capacity hauled to Nairobi from Mombasa, comes as the Nairobi ICD struggles with congestion. It has since acquired more land as it seeks to expand its capacity.

The Kenya International Freight and Warehousing Association (Kifwa) says the depot is stretched, holding more than 8,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) against its capacity of 3,000 TEUs.

Mr Manduku said KPA has leased four storage facilities in Nairobi “to address cargo pile-up at the ICD, which we expect to help clear our yard capacity.”

He said that a joint monitoring centre has been set up for realtime tracking of containers from Mombasa and throughout the value chain, which has drastically minimised delays.

Even as the government celebrate the success of the freight service, businesses in Mombasa that depend on the port economy have started wobbling from losses, as the faster, seemingly more efficient SGR cargo train takes over cargo evacuation.

Mr Bakari a driver who transports mitumba from the Mombasa port to Kampala — cargo classified as high-risk due to the possibility of being diverted to the Kenyan market. He says before the SGR cargo train, he would do three trips in a month and take a week off, but now he spends more time waiting for the goods than on the road. We have seen a reduction in port-related business as a result of the SGR cargo service.

The cargo train handles about 40 per cent of the port cargo transport business, taking away thousands of jobs.


With the government keen on transporting about 250,000 containers by train by the end of the year, there will certainly be more job losses in the port-related economy.

Truckers are projected to incur $210 million in lost business. For the CFSs, the loss is estimated at more than $100 million, at the end of the year.As at June this year, the Container Freight Station Association (CFSA) said that more than 3,200 workers had lost their jobs.

With this improvement of SGR service and the government working extra hard to de-congest the port, what do you think is better for the betterment and development of the country , de-congestion of the port or stop SGR cargo service for truckers to earn a living?

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