The government has asked owners of container freight stations (CFS) to set up base in Nairobi as it downplays reports that increased use of standard gauge railway (SGR) cargo trains has rendered many truckers and port workers in Mombasa jobless.
More than 500 truck drivers and 100 workers in CFSs have been declared redundant. But Transport Principal Secretary Paul Maringa said that ferrying of cargo through the SGR has brought more gains to the economy, ensured efficiency at the Mombasa port and saved roads from overloaded trucks.
“We cannot continue having the conversation about Mombasa and Nairobi. We must look at the bigger picture. We are encouraging the CFS owners to come and open their stations in Nairobi and other parts of the country Prof Maringa told the Daily Nation by phone.
Some seven trains ferrying 752 containers leave the port of Mombasa daily for Nairobi. About 1,300 containers arrive at the port daily.
Asked whether players in the sector should concentrate on investing in Nairobi, the PS said, “We should not lose the direction. Let’s look at things holistically. We have been able to attract more business at the port which is benefiting Mombasa and the country at large.”
He said following the efficiency in movement of cargo, the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) has increased its capacity to hold more cargo, boosting the economy.
A ship which used to take up to 12 days to clear cargo at the port, he said, is now taking a day and a half.
“And this is because of the speed that the SGR has been able to transport cargo to the inland container depot in Nairobi compared to the trucks. We have added handling capacity at the port and that is beneficial to all of us,” he said.
In the last two months, he said, the port has handle at least 17,000 containers.
Prof Maringa said the cargo trains cannot not ferry all the goods at the port, leaving some for road haulage.
He said by using the train line, the government has saved money for other development projects.