Kenya Railways will start direct cargo trains between Mombasa and Kampala in November following the renovations of the Meter Gauge Railway that runs from Nakuru to Malaba.
The 28 hour train, which is expected to ease pressure on the road usage, will run through the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) from Mombasa before joining the revamped MGR line in Naivasha.
Kenya Railways says there will be a second train that will operate from Naivasha to Kisumu and connect the transit cargo via Lake Victoria to neighbouring Great Lakes countries of Burundi and Rwanda.
“We are going to have an interconnection between Standard Gauge Railway and Metre Gauge Railway at Naivasha. This will allow seamless movement of cargo from Mombasa to the East African region without having to transport it on road within the next two months,” said Kenya Railways managing director Philip Mainga.
Uganda is the biggest market for Kenyan goods and the top client to the Mombasa port, especially for transit cargo, ahead of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), South Sudan and Rwanda.
Uganda recently started revamping its old railway line, an indicator that the country is now gearing up for a smooth connection of railway cargo from the Naivasha ICD depot. Kampala signed a Sh5 billion deal with a Chinese firm to rehabilitate an old metre gauge railway line between Malaba and Kampala.
The revival of the port in Lake Victoria creates a multimodal system involving road, rail and water. It will see goods entering the East Africa region through the port of Mombasa, transported via the standard gauge railway to Naivasha, and carried onwards to Kisumu through the rehabilitated Meter Gauge Railway line.
Fuel tankers and cargo vessels will then ferry the goods to Uganda and northern Tanzania – countries that share the Lake Victoria shoreline – and can be transported onwards via road and train to other countries in the region.
The Lake Victoria port network also includes Mwanza, Musoma, and Bukoba in Tanzania and Entebbe and Port Bell in Uganda.
Kenya Railways has been revitalising sections of the MGR network, as well as constructing new links all covering a total length of 922 kilometers.
The development also includes linking of the MGR line to the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) line from Naivasha Inland Container Depot, and also from Mai Mahiu SGR station.
Upon completion, the revitalised and new line will enhance railway operations by improving interconnectivity of transport modes as well as between regions, reducing travel times, increasing transport capacity, reduction in road accidents and reducing carbon emissions thereby cutting on negative environmental impact.
The recently launched port of Lamu continues to record good business with transshipment cargo forming the bulk of the freight handled at the facility. Last week, the port received the largest consignment of 365 containers of transshipment cargo, the biggest of the six ships to have been shipped to the Port since its operationalisation in May.
Kenya and Ethiopia have ratified a procedure manual that will guide the two countries in the implementation of the Moyale One-Stop Border Post (OSBP) that was recently commissioned, paving the way for its full operationalisation.
The new measure by South Sudan implies that all goods to this landlocked nation from either the port of Mombasa or Dar es Salaam through the border points of Kenya and Uganda will have to be issued with ECTN at a cost of up to $110 depending on the size of the cargo.