MOMBASA, Kenya–The world's largest container shipping company Maersk on Friday engaged the services of a full block freight train to ferry cargo from the Port of Mombasa via the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) to the Inland Container Depot (ICD) in Nairobi.
In a move billed as a game changer and a major boost for the SGR, the shipping line transported two fully loaded trains with a capacity of 108 containers each, to Nairobi via rail with the first one departing at 2.00 pm and the second one at 4.00 pm.
Noting that transportation of cargo by rail saves time, with the train taking an average of eight hours to arrive in Nairobi, Kenya Railways Business Commercial and Operations Team leader Mr. James Siele applauded Maersk for the continued support towards the rail freight services.
Mr Siele at the same time commended the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) for efficiency and timeliness in cargo handling from the vessel to the marshalling yard, saying this was a key ingredient necessary for ensuring train schedules are strictly adhered to.
"As we dispatch this train, the vessel is still at the Berth discharging other containers meaning that we are actually delivering containers to Nairobi before the vessel sails off the port. This is a very good performance by KPA in conveying cargo to the customers," he said.
The SGR currently runs four scheduled trains to the ICD Nairobi each ferrying 108 Twenty Foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) and therefore a total 432 TEUs daily.
The officer was quick to add that there are plans to introduce the fifth and sixth trains from 1st May and June 2018 respectively.
Captain William Ruto, the KPA General Manager Operations and Harbour Master, assured importers and the business community of the Authority's commitment in ensuring faster and efficient cargo delivery to the ICDN.
"The containers being railed to Nairobi ICD are being delivered 'ex-hook' meaning containers are being discharged directly from the ship and onto the train for Nairobi. This greatly improves the cargo dwell time and improves on the ship turnaround time," he added.
Improved cargo dwell time is important as it frees up container yard space in the port therefore reducing congestion at the port. Faster ship turnaround time improves a port's productivity and profitability.
To ensure smooth operations, KPA, Kenya Railways and Kenya Revenue Authority have come up with a one-stop center and introduced a 24-hour working schedule at the Nairobi ICD just like at the Port of Mombasa. A customer care desk has been set up at the ICDN with the purpose of informing consignees of the arrival of their cargo immediately it gets to Nairobi for collection.