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Ports authority takes over key KR's functions

By Willis Oketch | February 22nd 2021

Cargo clearance at the port after the ships had docked had reduced from 5.6 days in December 2020 to 4.6 days. [Gideon Maundu, Standard]

Barely a year after President Uhuru Kenyatta signed an executive order to collapse all transport agencies into one, Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) has officially taken over Kenya Railway Corporation (KRC) yards.

KPA Acting Managing Director Salim Rashid said Kenya Railways has handed over the Kilindi loading yard, five rail lines and equipment to the port agency.

The decision, he noted, was aimed at boosting efficiency in the evacuation of cargo from the port of Mombasa by the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR).

He observed that KPA was now in charge of loading the containers onto SGR wagons, stating that Kenya Railways’ core business will be transporting the cargo and supply of the wagons, and running of the trains.

“Since KPA employees are the experts in the loading of the cargo from the ships to the wagons, it is fair for them to get the job of loading while other works like the running of the train, repairs of the rail lines and supply of the wagons are left to Kenya Railways,” said Rashid.

He exuded confidence that the new arrangement will ease the evacuation of containers and other cargo from the port.

Kenya Railways official James Siele, who confirmed the handover, said the rail agency remains with the business of transporting cargo, the supply of wagons, running of the train, maintenance of the railway lines and other related business.

Rashid noted that the use of double-deck wagons by SGR had also improved the movement of containers from Mombasa port to dry port in Nairobi.

The use of double-deck trains was experimented with last year but did not take effect immediately.

It has now become a permanent feature along the SGR line and is expected to increase the number of containers being ferried out of the port every day.

“Loading of double-deck wagons has boosted the number of containers being evacuated. We started with one double-deck train of 38 wagons hauling 152 20-foot containers (TEUs) and now we are running two trains per week,” said Rashid.

He said 10,072 TEUs have been evacuated in the past two weeks compared to 9,774 TEUs in the first two weeks of the year - and has helped reduce expenses.

“A single double-deck train currently hauls 152 TEUs on a single trip using 30 per cent fewer resources compared to a single stack train,” he stated, adding that cargo clearance at the port after the ships had docked had reduced from 5.6 days in December 2020 to 4.6 days in January 2021.

This, he noted, was as a result of operational changes, including taking over of operations at Port Reitz yard.

The KPA chief executive said dangerous cargo loading, which was previously experiencing delays due to the distance of the loading zone, has improved.

He noted that the cargo is loaded at the now optimised line 12 at Port Reitz, which is more efficient.

He stated that the port only allows up to four waiting ships on the queue with the numbers expected to drop in the coming weeks.

“We will be loading containers directly from the discharging vessels,” he promised.

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