Kenya launches operations at the Naivasha dry port

A general view shows a train on the SGR line in Kimuka, Kenya, October 16, 2019./ VCG Photo

Kenya has launched cargo services at the Naivasha-based inland container depot (ICD) that is expected to revolutionize transport of bulk cargo to the east Africa nation’s hinterland and neighboring countries.

As CGTN’S Beryl Ooro reports, the dry port will boost Kenya’s status as a transport and logistics hub while enhancing regional integration.

On the outskirts of Naivasha, a town located some 100 kilometres from Kenya’s Capital, the road leading to the Inland Container Depot has been rehabilitated for use by cargo operators

The inaugural freight from Mombasa via the standard gauge railway has just arrived in the newly established dry port for disembarking of the cargo that will later be loaded to trucks for onward transmission to neighbouring countries. Up to four trains will ferry cargo to the terminal on a daily basis.

James Macharia, Minister for Transport and infrastructure in Kenya, says the depot is crucial in relieving congestion at the port of Mombasa 

Mr Macharia says: “The future of cargo transportation or load transportation.. it is not on trucks. It’s about doing railways. Large transportation and what matters most is actually having a very effective co efficient transportation system.”

But there are still minor works that need to be completed to enable the facility to operate optimally and the contractor is racing against time as traffic at the depot begins to pick up.

The dry port stands on over 1,000 acres and can load two million tonnes of cargo every year.

Kenya’s government says the move to upgrade the facility would boost the movement of goods in the region, which has been hard hit by partial lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are creating an industrial hub here in Naivasha and that’s why we have the special economic zone that is being planned here which will be employing thousands and thousands of our youth. Anywhere you go today, it’s not about putting together a stand-alone industrial zone. It is a question of having a broad based special economic zone, which can take into account all businesses, all sectors,” Macharia adds.

Plans are also underway to upgrade the old meter gauge railway with the terminal in a move that will enable cargo to be directly transported from Mombasa to Kenya’s border with Uganda.

More than 80 per cent of the regional transit traffic of cargo through the Mombasa port is destined for Uganda.

“We have plans to actually do a new MGR line which has already been designed. This is to make sure that in about 12 months we will have the railway from here to Longonot station and all the way to Malaba. This will create a seamless connectivity of rail from the port of Mombasa to Malaba port. This is what will make sure that in future, you don’t have to like what you have today at Malaba where trucks are queuing at the length of 60 km. This is what will solve that problem.”

And as activity at the dry port gathers pace, the sleepy town of Naivasha stands to gain the most from the spillover of increased trade.