All cargo destined for Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan will be transported via standard gauge railway (SGR) for clearance at the Naivasha Inland Container Depot (ICD) starting June 1. This is to reduce interactions along the Northern corridor and thus facilitate the containment of Covid-19.
Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia said it will be mandatory for all cargo imported through the port of Mombasa to be hauled through SGR and that all mechanisms are being put in place to ensure smooth clearance of the cargo in Naivasha.
The announcement comes at a time when truck drivers are accused of spreading infections along the Northern corridor despite stiff measures to contain the spread of the disease.
Mr Macharia said the move was agreed upon by four Heads of States during their Consultative Meeting of the East African Community held by video conference on May 12.
"President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, President Uhuru Kenyatta (Kenya), President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni (Uganda) and President Salva Mayardit Kiir of South Sudan have considered appropriate cross-border transportation modalities to reduce human traffic without impacting negatively on transportation of cargo across the borders and the use of SGR is one of them," said Mr Macharia in a statement.
Early this month, Kenya Railways Corporation launched direct SGR freight service for all transit cargo to be ferried directly from Mombasa port to Naivasha ICD where trucks will pick them for onward transportation.
Already, players in the logistics sector have welcomed the new direct SGR cargo freight from the Port of Mombasa to Naivasha, which will cost Sh60,000 for a 20-foot container and Sh85,000 for a 40-foot container of up to 20 tonnes and Sh91,000 for the same container weighing above 21 tonnes.
Railway freight will reduce the time taken to transport goods to different East African countries, considering it reduces distance by 46 per cent from the Port of Mombasa to Uganda - about 527 kilometres.
Traditionally, Ugandan imports and exports travel a distance of 1,144 kilometres between Mombasa and Kampala on the Northern corridor.
The CS said the Kenya Ports Authority will provide requisite office accommodation to the Kenya Revenue Authority, Uganda Revenue Authority, Rwanda Revenue Authority and the South Sudan Revenue Authority staff who will be deployed at the facility to ensure smooth clearance of the cargo.