Kenya on Monday announced a three-month promotional tariff for the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) freight services.
James Macharia, Cabinet Secretary for Transport, approved the request to enable the cargo owners and shipping fraternity experience the new service that was launched on Jan. 1.
Kenya Railways will now charge a flat rate of 645 U.S. dollars for a 20-foot container and 843 dollars for 40-foot container, which will include freight, handling charges and returning of empty containers from Nairobi to Mombasa.
Initially, clearing agents and cargo owners complained of many hidden charges on top of the prescribed 500 dollars rate for the 20-foot container and 700 dollars for 40-foot container.
Macharia said the move follows consultations held between Kenya Railways and Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) and Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA).
“In a bid to entice the cargo owners, shippers and clearing agents, Kenyan government has decided to introduce a flat fixed rate to do away with other hidden costs,” said Macharia.
Kenya International Freight and Warehousing Association (Kifwa) last week raised concerns over the issue of last mile, clearance of cargo at Nairobi Internal Container Depot (ICD) and returning of empty containers to Mombasa, saying the issues had not been addressed.
“The move will also give KRC, KPA and KRA an early opportunity to test and improve on the processes at the One Stop Border Post based at the recently upgraded Inland Container Depot to enhance customer experience during this inaugural period,” said Macharia.
Macharia implored upon the shipping agencies to work closely with government bodies and other partners involved in cargo handling to provide a seamless service to cargo owners in the country and in Eastern Africa region generally.
Kifwa chairperson William Ojonyo had accused KRC of rushing to implement the freight services without addressing some of the pertinent issues raised during stakeholder’s meetings.
Ojonyo said the Nairobi ICD clearance system is very slow. He said by use of trucks, the containers are normally offloaded atop the truck, which mean that they are not removed from the vehicle and immediately after offloading is done the truck goes back to Mombasa.
Kenya Railways says the freight service will boost business by cutting the cost of transportation from and to the Port of Mombasa. Enditem