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Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) has started ferrying cargo on double-stacked trains from the Port of Mombasa to the Inland Container Depot (ICD) in Nairobi.

Double-stack rail transport is a form of intermodal freight transport where railroad vehicles carry two layers of intermodal containers.

In a statement, KPA’s Acting Managing Director Daniel Manduku said the double-stacked train operations began on Sunday.

The 2.7 kilometre bridge linking the port to the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) Mombasa terminus also started operations today, boosting business at the facility.

This will ensure easier movement of bulky and heavy goods such as coils, steel cars and iron into the SGR. It is the first SGR bridge that crosses the Indian ocean.

The authority will now drop the use of road trucks to feed goods from ships to the rail in what is expected to lower the cost of transport and quicken the movement of goods.

The port’s Head of Corporate Affairs Bernard Osero said the move is aimed at facilitating easier movement of bulky and heavy goods.

The 10 berths are currently connected to the SGR terminus via a road and the authority has been offloading goods via cranes and transporting them via trucks to the SGR line.

“The SGR ensures safety, security, efficiency and timeliness. There will be no congestion. Mombasa is becoming more and more efficient and secure port for cargo transportation,” Mr Osero told Daily Nation.

Imported cars destined for regions other than Mombasa, that used to be ferried out of the port via trucks, will now be ferried via the SGR wagons which today started loading directly from the ship.

According to David Arika, a Senior Permanent Way Officer who is also the SGR Project Manager at the port, more than 200,000 imported cars will now be ferried by the SGR through the Port Relief Line 1 and 2.

Mr Arika said the two lines will feed the SGR with more than nine million tons of cargo at the port.

The lines cover a total of 4.9 kilometers with a total loading capacity of 400 wagons.

In an interview, Mr Osero said KPA customers will now load their vehicles in the SGR to be ferried to Nairobi’s ICD and a special yard in the capital city for storage of bulky goods.


He said the new SGR bridge line that is at the containerised side of the port will now be carrying more goods from the ships. 

“The SGR is supposed to serve the entire port by carrying cargo from the port to the hinterland. This cargo should be both containerised and non-containerised. The first phase of the line, which reached the port, had gone only up to the container terminal, meaning that from January, we have been carrying containerised cargo,” he said.

Mr Osero further said that ferrying vehicles via SGR will be cost effective to many Kenyans and other port users.

“If you want your car the same way you bought it from the port of origin, for example in Japan, it will arrive in Nairobi in the same condition because it will not have been driven. The car will be driven on the ram from the ship to the wagon,” he added.

Mr Osero said the volume of cargo at the facility is growing rapidly and that by December 12, trains will be ferrying goods from the port to the ICD.

“We started with one train but are now taking eight trains a day. By December we will be using 12 trains. This will boost businesss. Ports worldwide must have an efficient rail and road network in order to work efficiently,” Mr Osero said.

Mr Osero said the railway is important for bulky cargo which are the majority at the port.

The port discharges more than 200,000 units of cars every year.

The ferrying of cars from the port via the SGR will push more truck owners out of business as the transportation of conventional cargo was earlier affected by the trains.

According to the Kenya Transporters Association (KTA), more than 100 truck drivers were left jobless as owners either reduced their fleets or closed their businesses altogether due to less activity.

That was the result of the transport of goods from the port to the ICDs through the SGR cargo trains.

Car Importers Association of Kenya (CIAK) chairman Peter Otieno asked the KPA not to force car importers to use SGR trains.