Kenya's new SGR freight operations to decongest Mombasa Port and ease cargo transportation

By Edith Mutethya in Nairobi, Kenya | | Updated: 2019-12-18 11:32

Uhuru Kenyatta, the president of Kenya, and Wang Yong, the special envoy of President Xi Jinping, commission freight operation of the Chinese-built Nairobi-Naivasha Standard Gauge Railway. [Photo provided to China Daily]

The first cargo train starting from Nairobi to Naivasha Inland Container Depot, or ICD, on Dec 17 will further reduce the logistics cost and greatly boost regional connectivity and integration and economic growth of Kenya’s inland. Uhuru Kenyatta, the president of Kenya, and Wang Yong, the special envoy of President Xi Jinping, commissioned freight operation of the Chinese-built Nairobi-Naivasha Section, the first phase of Nairobi-Malaba Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) and the extension of the Mombasa-Nairobi SGR. The project, a fruit of the Belt and Road Initiative, is expected to ease cargo transportation from the Port of Mombasa to the newly completed Naivasha ICD, destined for the western region of the country and the neighboring Uganda, South Sudan, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo.

President Kenyatta said the completion of the depot and commencement of freight services will significantly support and provide anchorage, for the development of Naivasha Industrial Park, whose construction is set to begin soon. “We hope other economic and commercial ventures will be established along the line, which together will trigger creation of productive employment; and in the process reduce poverty and inequality across the whole country,” the president said. He said the 45,000-square-meter Naivasha ICD will not only help relieve pressure on the Port of Mombasa and the Nairobi ICD, but will also take the cargo closer to Uganda and South Sudan by a further 120 kilometers from Nairobi.

“This strategic development is a clear demonstration that the SGR is a game changer in supporting development of industrial parks, logistics and commercial hubs, and special economic zones, which will attract further foreign investments and enable us to do greater business with our neighboring countries,” he said Kenyatta said the demand for SGR services along Nairobi-Naivasha Railway is a clear demonstration of the need for more capacity and modern and efficient transport infrastructure, to support investors in Kenya and across the entire East African Region. The launch of the freight services comes barely two months after launch of the passenger services along the same route.

To date, Uhuru said the passenger train has transported more than 10,000 passengers and that the demand is significantly outstripping the carrying capacity.

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