The Naivasha inland container depot (ICD) has not received a cargo train more than a month after President Uhuru Kenyatta launched freight operations to the Rift Valley town, raising queries on the cause of the delay.
On December 17, 2019, President Kenyatta launched the extended standard gauge railway (SGR) freight services from Mombasa to the Naivasha ICD, promising faster transportation of cargo to western Kenya and the neighbouring countries.
The controversial SGR project has so far cost $5 billion in Chinese loans, with no clarity yet on its viability and Kenya’s ability to repay the massive debt.
During the launch, President Kenyatta said two trains would initially serve the Naivasha ICD with cargo destined for neighbouring countries. He added that two shipping lines had committed to transport goods directly from Mombasa to Naivasha.
However, the $1.5 billion SGR Phase 2A facility is lying idle more than a month after the commissioning.
The Naivasha ICD is at the heart of Kenya’s ambition to become the transport corridor of choice for neighbouring countries but the plan is facing competition from Tanzania’s central corridor.
The ICD contractor is yet to complete the facility in which the government has invested $65.7 million, with projections showing that show that the earliest it can be ready is April.
“They are trying to rush the works, but if they go at a normal pace it can only be ready by July,” said a customs agent who spoke to local newspaper Daily Nation in anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media.