Kenya Railways to introduce last mile SGR transport


President Uhuru Kenyatta launches the upgraded Inland Container Depot (ICD) in Embakasi. PHOTO| PSCU
President Uhuru Kenyatta launches the upgraded Inland Container Depot (ICD) in Embakasi. PHOTO| PSCU

Kenya Railways is mulling plans to introduce a cargo transport service from the Inland Container Depot (ICD) in Embakasi to enhance efficiency of the SGR cargo service.

This comes as cargo owners have complained of high costs charged by transporters to move their cargo from the ICD that seen them shy away from using the train service.

On Wednesday, Kenya Railways Managing Director Atanas Maina said the firm will be signing a service level agreement (SLA) with a number of transporters to introduce a pre-approved transport charge that will entice cargo owners.

Mr Maina said Kenya Railways would work out a zoning structure to determine transport costs from the ICD to different destinations.

“For example what would you charge 5, 10 or 15 kilometer radius and agree on a rate. That way there is predictability for the cargo owner on what he will pay as the cost for the last mile,” Mr Maina said.

Adoption of the SGR cargo service has been off to a slow start with cargo owners blame inefficiency and high costs associated with the government plan.

Transporters have also been on the spot for charging high costs from the inland container depot further stifling adoption.

He said Kenya Railways has also launched a cargo tracking portal that would alert cargo owners once their cargo arrives at the ICD.

“Going forward we are looking at how we can ‘Uberize’ the tracking system so that we are able to tie the last mile transporter to when the cargo arrives,” he said.

The move is expected to ease congestion at the depot by having trucks arrive as cargo is cleared.

Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) earlier in the month slashed container handling charges for a 20-foot local container to Sh8,160 from Sh10,506.

To stimulate adoption of the SGR cargo service, the government has also directed that all cargo imported and or exported by government agencies, including cargo for projects undertaken by third parties, must be moved by rail.

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