Government to import 500 more SGR cargo wagons


The National Government is planning to buy an additional 500 wagons for the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) freight services, the Kenya Railways Corporation (KRC) has said.

Currently, Kenya Railways has 1,620 SGR wagons that are used to transport cargo from the port of Mombasa to Nairobi and Naivasha Inland Container Depots (ICDs) daily.

KRC operates an average of 10 freight trains from Mombasa to Nairobi and Naivasha everyday. It also operates another ten trains carrying empty containers from Nairobi and Naivasha to Mombasa everyday.

On Tuesday, KRC coast operations manager Thomas Ojijo said the 1,620 wagons are not enough for the optimal performance of the SGR freight services.

“We have already ordered 500 more wagons, and we expect to receive them soon. The board has approved that,” he said.

The current wagons were imported into the country from China in 2018 and the cargo train operations started in the country in December 2019.

Despite hue and cry from transporters that the government has been forcing cargo onto the SGR, Kenya Railways said they only transport about 40 per cent of containerised cargo coming through the port of Mombasa.

They are also transporting 10 per cent of the conventional cargo to Nairobi.

“We are only carrying 40 percent of containerised cargo and 10 percent of the conventional cargo. The remaining cargo is still being transported on the roads,” said Ojijo.

He was speaking to journalists at the port of Mombasa during a media tour of the port facility.

According to Ojijo, with the increased cargo at the port of Mombasa, KRC will be required to buy more wagons to meet the demand for freight services.

Ojijo said they need to operate an average of 15 cargo trains from Mombasa to Nairobi everyday, an additional five more trains.

 “We need to run at least 15 freight trains from the port of Mombasa to Nairobi all the way to Naivasha everyday. Another 15 trains should come down at the coast with empty containers everyday,” he said.

Ojijo said out of the current 1,620 wagons, 80 wagons are utilized for bagged cargo, 495 wagons are used for bulk cargo and the remainder is for containerised cargo.

“However, because of the increased demand for transportation of containerised cargo, the 495 wagons for bulk cargo have now been modified to carry both containers and bulk cargo,” he said.

He said out of the ten trains from Mombasa port everyday, nine carry cargo to Nairobi’s ICD, whereas only one carries goods to Naivasha ICD.

Of the ten trains operated by KRC daily, eight are for containerised cargo, and two are for conventional cargo.

Ojijo said it takes eight hours to transport cargo from the port of Mombasa to Nairobi ICD, which is 472-kilometre stretch.

“From Mombasa to Naivasha ICD, a 561-kilometre stretch, the trains take a minimum of 10 hours,” he added.

However, it takes up to 24 hours for a truck to transport cargo from Mombasa to Nairobi because of various delays along the highway.

The drivers have to wait up to six hours at the weighbridges in Mariakani and Athi River, delays caused by police checks along the road and traffic snarl-up in major towns.

SGR trains do not experience such delays unless there is a mechanical breakdown.

Ojijo said from Naivasha ICD, that the cargo is transferred to wagons on the old meter-gauge railway and transported all the way to Kisumu or Malaba.

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