The Kenyan government will soon put into place regulations that will see all container cargo over 28 tons to be carried by rail, a government official said on Tuesday. Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Transport Dr James Njiru said that overloaded containers are taking a heavy toll on country’s road transport network which receives a significant portion of government revenues.
“Before the end of the July, the ministry of transport will have gazetted rules that will direct all container cargo over 28 tons to be transported by rail,” Njiru said. He added that it was part of government’s plan to ensure east Africa’s largest port — the port of Mombasa — to become the most cost effective port in Africa.
Njiru said that the new laws will see the railways system increase its percentage of port cargo that it transports from current the four percent to 35 percent by the end of 2014. He added that Kenya will follow the lead of developed countries that transport most freight by rail system.
“Most industrialized countries have realized that it is cheaper in the long run to move bulk cargo by rail,” Njiru said.
He added that it will not interfere with truck business as they will be used to deliver the cargo from rail stations to final consumer. The government official added that over reliance on road system was due to lack of investment in the maintenance and improvement of the capacity of the rail system.
The Ministry of Transport said that the design of the new standard gauge railway line from Mombasa to Nairobi which is part of the Kenya-Uganda railway has already being completed.
“This is significant because it will carry over 70 percent of all the railway freight in Kenya,” he said, adding that the governments of Uganda and Kenya have agreed to jointly develop the new railway system which will construct from funds under a bilateral financial assistance.
He said that the government has already identified a donor. “All that is required is a formal request from the treasury to the donor country,” he said.
Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) Managing Director Gachiri Ndua said that the government will soon begin a feasibility study for construction of Dongo Kundu Free port in Mombasa on 3,000 acres of land.
“We hope to construct the port through the use of public private partnership,” Ndua said. He said that the total sum of all port projects in Mombasa will triple the current capacity of the port by the end of two years.
“As of the now the previous congestion at the dock of the port has been cleared and there are no shipping waiting to dock,” he said. Ndua added that economic expansion in the east Africa region has fueled growth of port volumes hence demand for satellite ports.
According to KPA the existing container terminal at the port of Mombasa was designed to handle 250,000 TEUs (twenty foot containers), but in 2010 over 695,000 TEU was handled.
“A second container terminal is being developed by KPA which will approve an additional annually capacity of 1.2 million TEUs,” he said. (Xinhua)