Why Naivasha might become one of the busiest cargo transit points in East Africa

East African countries Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan and Uganda have collectively outlined a new strategy to transport cargo items during this pandemic period, in a bid to avoid the massive spread of the coronavirus across borders.
Starting from July 1st, 2020, all transit cargoes that are bound to Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan will be picked up from Naivasha (Kenya) instead of Mombasa (the largest port in Kenya and East Africa), or be transported by Metre Gauge Railway to Tororo (Uganda), and then Kampala, capital of Uganda.
Additionally, crude oil products will be transmitted via pipeline to Kisumu (Kenya) and later through Lake Victoria to Port Bell or Jinja.
The decision was disclosed last Friday, by Kenya’s Minister Cabinet Secretary for transport James Macharia, who said the conclusion came after the May 12th, 2020, East African Community video conference, that had in attendance the Presidents of Kenya, Rwanda, and South Sudan.
“All transit cargo destined for Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan will be transported either on Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) for clearance at the Inland Container Depot (ICD) at Naivasha or Metre Gauge Railway to Tororo-Kampala. All transit cargo railed to the Inland Container Depot (ICD) at Naivasha will be collected by trucks to the Partner States via Busia or Malaba,” Macharia said in a statement.
The general aim is to reduce human traffic without affecting the fluid movement of goods and commodities to the economies of these respective countries, as a large number of coronavirus cases were traced to truck drivers and personnel plying routes that connect these countries.
Coronavirus aside, Kenya is majorly surrounded by landlocked countries- Uganda, Rwanda, South Sudan that rely on the seaports at Naivasha and Mombasa for importation and exportation of commodities.
However, the freights are majorly moved in and out of these countries by trailers and trucks due to the price and time advantage over train transport, nevertheless, they still pose a huge risk of road accidents to commuters and other road users.
On the other hand, logistics companies are seriously concerned about the cost of transporting goods by train as the prices are significantly higher than the cost of road transport.
In a recent article by The East African which shared the tariffs by ’Kenya Railway Corporation: transport cost for cargo using the SGR from Mombasa to Naivasha costs $600 for a 20-feet container and $850 for a 40-feet container of up to 20 tonnes, also $910 for the same container weighing over 21 tonnes, and $1,500 to Kampala.
The above prices are exclusive of cargo handling charges, which sum up to $300 compared with $2,000 cost of using trucks directly from Mombasa to Kampala, which includes charges of returning empty freights.
Venture Africa