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Kenya begins phasing out cross-border cargo trucks

The Kenyan government has said that all transit cargo will have to move by the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) from Mombasa to Naivasha where truckers will pick it for delivery to Uganda, Rwanda, and South Sudan. This takes effect on June 1, 2020.

This effectively cuts off 600 kilometres that truck drivers would have to drive if they were to pick the goods directly from Mombasa port.

Kenya said in a statement on Friday that some of the cargo will move on the old metre-gauge railway directly to Tororo in eastern Uganda or Kampala, while fuel will be transported by pipeline to Kisumu, Kenya and thereafter by water on Lake Victoria to Portbell in Luzira, Kampala or Jinja.

This starts on June 1, according to a letter by James Macharia, Kenya's minister in charge of Transport. Revenue authorities from Uganda, South Sudan, Rwanda, and Kenya will have to be accommodated at Naivasha inland deport to clear goods on time. This, the statement added, will reduce contact of drivers with local people, the main cause for the spread of coronavirus disease.

Truck drivers have been seen as a weak link to spreading coronavirus and partner countries are trying to devise means to reduce their contact with the community. The issue of truckers is threatening to cause a diplomatic spat between EAC community members.

Exports will also, be required to move by rail – whether the containers are full or empty. Kenya has directed that drivers will drive up to Naivasha inland port and then the exports will be moved by rail to Mombasa.

While it is meant to control contact with truck drivers, it could also mean a chance for the region to try the possibility of transferring all cargo to rail. Kenya tried but truck owners had protested the move saying it was taking them out of business.

For the fuel and other cargo owners, rail transportation cuts on the cost and risk involved with road transport. Uganda was already transporting some fuel products by water. Last year, the country said it had completed a 14-tank storage facility in Entebbe to store 70 million litres of fuel.

Uganda President Yoweri Museveni has promised to revive Uganda's old railway and construction of a new one with funding expected from China and the European Union (EU). 


0 #1 miki 2020-05-22 23:06
Go rail Kenya! This will provide relief from the portion of roads frog-hopped by the railway.

Even if it wasn't for corona virus, diverting bulky cargo to rail and water where necessary is the right thing to in a region where doing business is very expensive mainly due to road transport costs.

It costs the same amount to transport a 40foot shipping container from New York to Mombasa (9007 nautical or 10,367miles) as transporting the same container from Mombasa to Kampala (710miles) !

Even if taking into account the economies of scale sea transport enjoys to aggregation, this is ridiculous! Hopefully the move to partial railway service will be much cheaper, efficient and quicker than trucking the cargo directly from Mombasa. Then the truckers will have to make their case to the shippers of cargo.
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0 #2 Amooti Mugi 2020-05-24 01:19
Brilliant decision Kenya!!!
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+1 #3 Mohamed Bagha 2020-05-24 19:32
Have you looked at the costing please reconfirm if loading Mombasa to Naivasha / Suswa by rail then Naivasha /Suswa by road it will be more expensive and further road transport industry which is represented by Kenya Transporters Association is not against SGR it is against force full use let the Importers decide mode of transport they want to use.

If you say about sorade of Covid 19 then as it is the goods will move by road from Naivasha /Suswa so still the same drivers are going to move it.

Please respect the drivers we all get food on our table because they are risking their lives to make sure you and I with our families get all our necessary and essential things. Salute to this Drivers
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