Kenya government has sorted the key issues raised by its neighbours for the use of the Inland Container Depot in Naivasha.
Transport Cabinet secretary James Macharia in a bid to manage the concerns by Uganda who are Kenya’s biggest trade partner in East Africa said the Naivasha ICD has improved its operations and made it easy for onward transit of cargo to the Malaba border and into Uganda.
Macharia, toured the facility recently where he stated that the SGR is key to the economic growth of the region as it plays a big role in ensuring cargo moves swiftly in the Great Lakes region including Uganda, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo and beyond.
Uganda had argued that the use of the Naivasha ICD should be optional but Macharia stated it will be economically viable for cargo transported by rail to Naivasha.
The use of the Standard Gauge Railway reduces costs of transport by almost half and also plays a big role in reducing the spread of the COVID-19.
Kampala is a major user of the port of Mombasa, accounting for up to a quarter of the cargo that passes through the facility.
On Tuesday, Macharia said Kenya Railways was putting up a marshalling yard to help deal with parking challenges for the transit vehicles.
He also said he had held a virtual meeting with his colleagues in Rwanda, Uganda and South Sudan to iron out the other challenges especially those resulting from the Covid-19 testing protocols.
“The Naivasha ICD is ready and it is so important for the country and the region especially at this time when we are dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.
“The transport corridors have been the main transmission corridors for Covid-19 and this ICD will reduce the risk on the road by about 600km, which translates to 50 per cent of the risk,” Macharia said.
Macharia said using the ICD would also be cheaper by about Sh45,000 ($450) per container compared to the roads.
He added that the ICD would also help decongest the roads, reduce the number of accidents, as well as cut the amount of time it takes to transport cargo from Mombasa.
Kenya has also given her neighbours 10-acre pieces of land at the ICD to build warehouses as well as a 30-day free storage period.
Kenya also plans of creating an economic zone on the 1,000 acres next to the ICD
BY ODINDO AYIEKO