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It's all systems go as Mombasa port gears up for SGR locomotives arrival

By Philip Mwakio | January 9th 2017
Journalists are shown a temporally Standard Guage Railway (SGR) line by the Kenya Ports Authority public relations officer Hajj Masemo during a tour at the port of Mombasa, January 08, 2017. The temporary SGR line will be used to off-load the eight SGR locomotive engines and be driven direct to the SGR marshalling yard where they will be received and commissioned by the Cabinet Secretary for Transport and Infrastructure James Macharia on Wednesday. [PHOTO BY GIDEON MAUNDU/STANDARD].

Preparations for the arrival of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) locomotives at the Mombasa Port are in high gear.

Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) has started modernising the Embakasi Inland Container Depot in readiness for arrival of the first batch of the locomotives ahead of the project’s commissioning.

The project’s contractor, China Road and Bridges Corporation (CRBC), has laid out a temporary SGR rail track alongside berth 11 at the port where the ship loaded with the SGR locomotives - MV Kota Bistari - is expected to offload its cargo today.

The temporary rail track will be used to shunt out the new locomotives out of the port and into kilometre zero section outside the facility where the SGR line starts.

Kenya Railways Corporation is developing a new SGR line for passengers and cargo transportation between Mombasa and Nairobi.

The new railway line constitutes the first phase of the SGR project that aims to connect Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan.


Speaking at the port yesterday during the offloading of eight rubber-tyred gantry cranes imported from China, KPA Principal Corporate Communications officer Haji Masemo said the equipment will come in handy as the depot gets busier.

"We are anticipating an increase in handling of cargo at the Embakasi depot once SGR trains start full operations by mid this year, hence the upgrade of the facility,’’ he said. Mr Masemo said the depo used to handle 180,000 TEUs (Twenty Equivalent Foot) units, but with the coming into operations of SGR, the figure is likely to rise to 450,000 TEUs.

The rubber-tyred gantry cranes were brought in as complete knock-down components and are to be transported by road to Nairobi where engineers from Zhenua Port Machinery (ZPMC) of China will assemble and install them before they are commissioned.

"The cargo arrived last Friday aboard a mega vessel, MV Bulk Paraiso, and started offloading at berth number nine. We expect all cargo to be moved to Nairobi this week,’’ said Mr Masemo.

He said it will take up to four months to complete the assembling of the gantry cranes, meaning the equipment will be ready when the first trial runs for the SGR trains takes place in June .

The Mombasa-Nairobi line is the biggest infrastructure project in Kenya since independence. It will shorten passenger travel time from Mombasa to Nairobi from more than 10 hours to a little more than four hours.

Freight trains will complete the journey in less than eight hours.

The SGR is a flagship project under the Kenya Vision 2030 development agenda.

It will simplify transport operations across the borders and reduce travel costs, besides benefiting Kenya’s economy and those of her neighbours. The class one line will run parallel to the existing meter-gauge railway and the Mombasa-Nairobi Road or A109 Highway for the most part.

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