KENYA: The first commercial freight train on the Standard Gauge Railway ran from Mombasa to the Embakasi Inland Container Depot in Nairobi on January 1. The 52-wagon train carried 104 TEU, which the operator pointed out was ‘almost equivalent to the trucks operating daily on the Mombasa – Nairobi highway.’

The SGR was officially opened in June. There are two passenger trains per day each way between Mombasa and Nairobi, and 613 000 passengers had been carried between the opening and mid-December,

The first Madaraka Freight Service left Mombasa at 05.45 and arrived at the Inland Container Depot at 14.40.

Kenya Railways charges US$500 to transport a 20 ft container and US$700 for a 40 ft container. This includes terminal charges, but excludes last mile transport. Goods that have cleared customs at the Port of Mombasa are transported to the Nairobi Freight Terminus, and goods that have not been cleared at the port are transported to the Inland Container Depot for clearance.

Domestic traffic is charged in the local currency, and transit or Inland Container Depot traffic in US dollars. Domestic traffic is subject to 16% VAT, but transit and export traffic is zero rated, as is traffic to the Inland Container Depot.

‘We built a world-class railway on time and within budget’, said Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta, adding that the start of freight services would cut costs and delays for businesses.