In the wake of government’s official inauguration of the standard gauge railway SGR operations, some long distance truck drivers have expressed their fears over their job security since 50 percent of imported cargo destined for upcountry will be moved by rail which is cheaper and efficient.
Once launched in December, it will cost only Sh50, 000 thousand to transport a 20-foot container from Mombasa to Nairobi by rail, a 37 per cent discount on what truck operators charge on road along the Mombasa Nairobi highway.
The long distance transporters who spoke to Peole Daily are now afraid that they might end up being rendered jobless if cargo importers opt for Rail transport as compared to road transport which has been characterized by delays.
The drivers are now calling on the government to expand roads along the Northern corridor to enhance faster movement of cargo on transit by road to protect them from being faced out of the transport business owing to competition.
Kenya Railways managing director Atanas Maina on Tuesday said the introductory of new financial rates will apply when standard gauge railway (SGR) starts operating from December 2017.
Maina made the remarks on the sidelines of the official inauguration of the SGR cargo train at the Mombasa port’s second container terminal where President Uhuru Kenyatta flagged off a freight train loaded with 59 containers.
“These are very competitive rates that are at least 30 per cent lower than those charged when cargo is transported on trucks and we will review the frequency of the trains according to demand,” said Maina.
Given that the divers encounter at least 15 police stops in Kenya before crossing into Uganda and to Burundi, many are the days they wait for nightfall before crossing certain roadblocks making it the most expensive mode of transportation of cargo.
“We are not opposed to the new project but we are afraid that our jobs are now at risk since the rail is cheaper and convenient as compared to road transport,” said Bonface Kivindyo a truck driver attached to of Shreeji Enterprises Company.
The rates therefore expected to rattle road transporters who charge an average of Sh80,000 per truckload. Transporters have asked the government not to subsidise freight transport, saying this will drive them out of business.
“What we want to ask the government is to improve the roads along the Nothern- Corridor so that we can compete with the Rail,” Ben Chepkwony another transit driver of Shreeji enterprises who spoke to people Daily on Wednesday Morning.
Mombasa hosts over 10,000 cargo trucks which operate within the Mombasa’s main port transporting cargo imports and exports to and from the facility and that have hired to over 30,000 employees.
“ The new railway line will ferry heavier and bigger containers faster, relieving pressure on the region’s congested roads as well as increase Kenya’s competitiveness as an investment destination,” said the Kenya Railways MD Atanus Maina.
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