The Madaraka Express Freight Service continues to experience an upturn in fortunes following positive reception of importers transporting their cargo via the Standard Gauge Railway line.
The service which is rapidly gaining importance as a transport solution for large cargo consignments destined for Kenya and the region has succeeded in convincing shippers to adopt the Through Bill of Lading (TBL) freight model of importing goods into the country.
Under the model, importers will nominate their cargo destined for Nairobi and other inland destinations for delivery to the Inland Container Depot in Nairobi via the Standard Gauge Railway line. This move is expected to result in an increase in volumes of cargo transported via the SGR line.
The Service whose operations are coordinated by Kenya Railways, Kenya Ports Authority and Kenya Revenue Authority recently received a boost when Kenya Railways entered into an agreement with Pacific International Lines (PIL) Kenya Ltd, whose headquarters are based in Singapore..
During the signing ceremony which was held at the Port Reitz Freight Station in Mombasa, PIL (K) Ltd committed to support the service and continually market the use of the Madaraka Freight Service as the preferred mode of transport. Later in the day, the team flagged off a full freight train with 108 TEUS destined for the Inland Container Depot in Nairobi.
Speaking during the event, the KR Managing Director said that the service has enabled importers and exporters to transport their cargo faster and in large volumes a fact which has played a vital role in decongesting the Port of Mombasa and enhancing operations on the service.
“This is a positive step towards increasing cargo transportation via the SGR. It is a sign that customers have started appreciating the type of service we are offering which basically aims to enhance transport and logistics in the region. The TBL model makes it easier for customers to even transport empty containers back to the port after delivery,” he said.
In a similar development, Kenya Railways signed yet another agreement with Wilhelmsen Ships Services, an agent of the Emirates Shipping Line. The signing which took place in the shipping line offices in Mombasa, is an indication that the Madaraka Freight Service is proving to be the preference for shippers and cargo owners and are steadily embracing it to transport imports and exports alike. During the signing ceremony, Wilhelmsen Ships Services General Manager, Mr Niroshan Jayasinghe expressed the willingness of the shipping line to support the service and continue promoting TBL haulage of cargo.
This wave of positivity comes in the wake of a similar agreement entered into between Kenya Railways and CMA-CGM recently.
Currently four trains ply the line between Mombasa and Nairobi daily. It is projected that the service will have at least 12 freight trains by the end of the year as more importers opt for the Madaraka Express Freight Service with each freight train capable of hauling 4,000 tonnes (108 TEUS) hauled on 54 wagons with a designed speed of 80 km per hour. Clearing and documentation services on the Madaraka Express Service are handled at the Port of Mombasa or at the customs-controlled ICD Facility in Nairobi.
The SGR has been beneficial for local imports and transit imports, cutting down transit times from Mombasa to Nairobi down to 10 hours . The current operations involves container business which includes transportation of containerized cargo (20ft and 40 ft containers) mainly steel and general containerized cargo; and bulk grain and fertilizer in hoppers, as well as vegetable and other oils in bulk tank tainers.