Imported cars will soon be transporting on the standard gauge railway (SGR) after the completion of the railway line to cover 10 berths at the port of Mombasa is complete.
According to Kenya Ports Authority (KPA), this will boost efficiency as it will enable car-go discharged from a ship to be loaded directly onto the SGR freight trains.
This means more than 200,000 imported cars can be now transported via SGR trains annually.
The SGR will also be able to handle non-containerised (conventional) cargo such as clinker, fertiliser, grains, and steels.
The development is another blow to road transporters who have been ferrying cars as the SGR freight trains will take most of the truck jobs.
Car Importers Association of Kenya chairman Peter Otieno asked KPA not to force importers to use the SGR trains when the services start.
“So long as they are doing it under the agreement with the importer, then we don’t have a problem with it. We will have a problem if we are forced to use the wagons when we are not ready for it,” said Mr Otieno.
He said it should be left to importers to decide if they want to ferry their vehicles through SGR.
“It is the importer who can decide whether his or her cargo should be taken by either the SGR or trucks. They should not be forced to use the trains against their wish,” Mr Otieno added.
The main SGR line between Mombasa and Nairobi is linked to the port by the line from Port Reitz Marshaling and enters the Mombasa port through Port Relief Line 1 behind berth 19.
The SGR Port Interface is served by Port Relief Line 1 and 2 from berth 1 to berth 18.
KPA has said more than 200,000 imported cars will now be ferried by the SGR through Port Relief Line 1 and 2.
Senior permanent way officer David Arika, who is also the SGR project manager at the port of Mombasa, said the extension would increase cargo uptake by the SGR trains.
Mr Arika said the two lines will be able to feed the SGR with more than nine mil-lion tonnes of cargo.
Port Relief Line 1 and 2 cover 4.9 kilometres, with a loading capacity of 400 wag-ons.
“The port of Mombasa discharges more than 200,000 units of cars every year, and that is why a ramp was created at the end of the relief line 2.
“The ramp is meant to facilitate the loading of the vehicles direct from the ships to the waiting SGR wagons. The vehicles will then be ferried to various destinations that include Nairobi, Kisumu and other regions,” said Mr Arika.
This is expected to push more trucks out of the road.
According to the Kenya Transporters Association, more than 100 truck drivers have been left jobless after the owners either reduced their fleet or stopped op-erations due to lack of business.
“SGR needed more cargo to increase their capacity and that is why this line was created,” said Mr Arika.