The Cabinet Secretary for Roads and Transport Kipchumba Murkomen flagged off 50 new wagons for Standard Gauge Railway freight services on Monday, in a strategic move aimed at enhancing the competence and capacity of the country’s transport infrastructure.
The Minister noted that a second shipment of 250 wagons from China is expected to arrive later in February in the country. According to Murkomen, the first batch of 50 Standard Gauge Railway wagons arrived in Mombasa last month, were inspected by Railway engineers, and have been certified for movement.
The wagons are expected to significantly enhance the nation’s freight capabilities, resulting in smoother operations and enhanced logistical prowess for the railway sector.
Speaking at the Port Reitz Freight Station in Mombasa, Murkomen said railway transport is a key enabler of the inspiration set out in the country’s long-term development blueprint.
“The acquisition of 50 new wagons is part of our strategic response to market dynamics, meeting the ever-changing customer demands and gaining a competitive edge,” he said.
The CS added that the attainment will also help in the goal of optimizing rail assets, availability, reliability, and utilization to sustainably increase the net ton per kilometer.
The government’s investments and reforms have resulted in significant gains in the Railway Transport Sector, including both Standard Gauge Railway and Mid Gauge Railway.
“The volume of cargo transported via MGR increased by 21% from 797,000 tons in 2022 to 1,955,000 tons in 2023, while SGR volume increased by 7% from 6,90,000 tons to 6,533,028 tons.,” Murkomen stated.
The Standard Gauge Railway saw a 12% passenger increase in 2023 due to the introduction of 70-ton wagons to reduce road damage.
“We are also expecting an additional 20 SGR Passenger coaches comprising 4 business class, 3 first class, 12 economic coaches, and one power car, of these, 6 will have provisions for people with disabilities, which is in line with the Government’s principle of inclusivity,” said the Minister
He challenged Kenya Railways to acquire more rolling stock and locomotives for both the SGR and MGR Networks to further enhance its competitive edge.
Kenya Railways procured 500 wagons for 2024/2025, including 300 DGR and 200 MGR, to ensure 30 percent growth and facilitate cargo movement to Kampala via Naivasha’s SGR and MGR transshipment facility.
The Managing Director of Kenya Railways Philip Mainga, said it has been 6 years since they last acquired more wagons and that due to the support they have been receiving from the government, they are also planning to increase the number of locomotives.
“We are happy as Kenya Railways fraternity as the cabinet secretary joins us to flag off these wagons and we are looking ahead to increased and more efficient business,” Mainga said.
The MD pledged that the numbers are going to increase and that their customers will not have any challenges because there are now enough wagons to move cargo from the Port Reitz Freight station to their destinations.