Kenya is the first country in Africa to introduce double stack container rail services. Kenya Railways will double stack containers on trains running on the standard gauge railway between Mombasa and Embakasi inland container depot (ICD) in Nairobi
Test runs of the double stack service on Kenya’s new standard gauge rail link were held on the line in September and continued into this month. They are the first intermodal stack trains to run anywhere in Africa and Kenya becomes only the ninth country in the world to introduce them [after US, Canada, Mexico, Australia, China, India, Saudi Arabia and Panama]. The wagons, manufactured in China, were delivered to the port of Mombasa during H1 2017 and again in the first six months of this year.
At present, KR operates eight freight trains on what is the country’s flagship infrastructure project, each with the capacity to carry 108 containers. The company says that double stacking capability will double its capacity on the line, which currently handles an annualised rate of 250,000 TEU/year.
The government, the Port of Mombasa and KR have introduced a series of measures designed to make the SGR a financial success. Special offers have been launched to attract importers to use the railway and Embakasi, while Nairobi has set targets on reducing the proportion of cargo transported between Mombasa and Nairobi by road.
In common with many ports in Sub-Saharan Africa, Mombasa is affected by the volume of uncollected containers. The demurrage imposed on traders or freight forwarders for leaving containers at the port beyond the allotted time can make it even more difficult for them to recover them.
The agencies involved are keen that a similar culture does not develop at Embakasi. Kenya Ports Authority and Kenya Revenue Authority have warned that importers must collect containers within 14 days or risk having their cargo seized for auction or destroyed.