Kenya Railways will dedicate two trains daily to ferry empty containers from its Nairobi Inland Container Depot to the port of Mombasa to reduce the backlog.
Responding to complaints over delays to return the containers, the Kenya Ports Authority said KR has scheduled one out of the five daily trains to ferry empty containers.
“The Authority will be holding weekly consultative sessions with its customers to track the efficiencies of the new measures,” said head of corporate affairs Bernard Osero.
An average of 540 containers of cargo are ferried to Nairobi ICD from Mombasa through the SGR following an increase of freight trains from one to five daily.
In a statement, KPA also outlined eight key measures put in place to improve operational efficiency.
The handling charges for both local and transit cargo have been reviewed from $103 to $80 per 20ft unit, and from $157 to $120 for 40ft. For Transit cargo, it was reduced from $85 to $60 for 20ft unit and $125 down to $90 per 40ft.
The free storage period for import containers in Nairobi has been reduced from 11 days to four days to encourage importers to hasten collection of their cargo.
KPA has also introduced a 24-hour work schedule including Sundays as well as opening a one-stop centre and returned containers that were erroneously sent to Nairobi.
It is using Hand Held Terminals (HHT) to update slots in the yard and trace containers to enhance human resources capacity and equipment.
“We wish to assure all our esteemed customers that we are working round the clock on all system challenges to ensure seamless clearance of cargo. We urge cargo owners to take advantage of the free storage period to clear their cargo as soon as it lands at the ICD Nairobi,” Mr Osero said.
The operations of the SGR commercial freight services started on January 1 to decongest the port by increasing cargo off-take by rail to the upgraded Nairobi ICD, which now has an annual capacity of 450,000 Twenty Foot Equivalent Units (TEUS).
“The measures taken are compatible with the exponential growth of freight trains from an initial single train to five daily trains ferrying an average of 540 containers to the Nairobi ICD,” Mr Osero said.
KPA in partnership with other players, have formed a rapid response initiative committee to resolve the operational challenges at the port. The committee is to give recommendations to resolve system hitches.
The players are Kenya Maritime Authority, Kenya Shipping Agents Authority, Mombasa Container Terminal, LAPSSET Corridor Development Authority, Car Importers Association Kenya, Kenya Transporters Authority and Container Freight Stations Associations.
The multi-stakeholder committee is working on a raft of measures to streamline processes at the port and the Nairobi ICD.