SGR stands for Standard Gauge Railway. The Mombasa–Nairobi SGR connects Kenya's port city of Mombasa to Nairobi. This is replacing the parallel Uganda Railway that was built during British colonial rule in the 19th century.
The Nairobi section of the Standard Gauge Railway that was completed in 2017 at a significant KES 327 billion cost launched its freight service in January, 2018 but had to suspend the daily service amid dwindling cargo volumes.
Kenya Railways (KR) and Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) are in charge to facilitate the efficient movement of cargo from Mombasa port to Nairobi’s Inland Container Depot (ICD) Embakasi via the Standard Gauge Railway.
Kenyan government through Kenya Ports Authority and Kenya Railways recently made it clear not to refrain on the directive to make the Standard Gauge Railway the only way of ensuring a smooth flow of cargo to the Inland Container Depot for the benefit of all cargo movements.
The directive came a few weeks after the government denied claims by shippers/transporters that it was trying to force them to use the Standard Gauge Railway despite poor infrastructure links at the Inland Container Depot. According to the directive, all un-nominated cargo will be transported through the rail.
The government’s unilateral decision to transport all imports coming in through Mombasa port on the Standard Gauge Railway to Nairobi’s Inland Container Depot in Embakasi is intended to reduce the cost of transport. Though had been earlier opposed by clearing and forwarding agents.
Kenya International Freight and Warehousing Association through its national secretary Ahmed Simbwa alleged that the move was unlawful as it was implemented without prior consultation with the respective stakeholders. He argued that in as much as the association fully backed the Standard Gauge Railways freight services, importers should have been given a right to choose whether or not to use the service.
Besides the complaints and opposing forces, the directive has indeed taken a positive impact so far with Kenya Ports Authority reporting a rise in cargo transported using the Standard Gauge Railway.
By Joseph Semuju
Community Manager - AMO
African Mobilities Observatory - AMO, MICHELIN.