Kenya’s crown jewel of the transport sector, the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) ferried 9.9 million tonnes of cargo in eight months of the year to August 2020 according to latest figures published by the National Treasury.
The cargo tonnage more than double during the period despite coronavirus impact on international trade when compared to full year 2019 when the railway hauled 4.2 million tonnes of cargo.
In 2018 SGR ferried 2.9 million tonnes of cargo, a 43.5% increased from 2019.
“The construction of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) has improved passenger and cargo transport activities with most businesses currently transporting their cargo from Mombasa to Nairobi and Naivasha via the SGR reducing congestion in the roads,” read the Budget Policy Statement.
When cargo business was severely affected at the peak of COVID-19 caution Kenya Railways introduced a tariff stimulus for transporters in order to cushion them from adverse effects of the pandemic.
During the three months window which commenced on 2nd June 2020 to 30th August of the same year, importers saw a reduction in cargo fees which were slashed from $600 (Kshs. 60,300) to $480 (Kshs. 51,140) for a 20 foot container.
Freight charges for a 40 foot container of up to 30 tonnes were also slashed from $910 (Kshs. 91,532) to $728 (Kshs. 77, 548).
During the same period, passenger traffic also surged to 4.3 million surpassing 1.5 million passengers who used the new railway in the entire 2019.
KRC suspended train services when movement was restricted between Nairobi and Mombasa by President Uhuru Kenyatta on 6th April 2020.
However, after the lifting of cessation on movement on 6th July, 2020, passenger service resumed albeit at 50% capacity to comply with social distancing measures in an effort to contain the virus.
KRC has since commenced Madaraka Express inter-county train services including Nairobi-Suswa route which begun on 2nd October 2020 as well as late night train between Mombasa and Nairobi which departs at 10PM from either cities.