KTDA to transport tea to Mombasa via SGR

NEWS

Workers at Ragati Tea Factory in Nyeri weighing tea leaves, January 11, 2019. [Kibata Kihu, Standard]

Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) managed factories will start transporting their produce via the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) line from Nairobi to the Port of Mombasa. KTDA said in a joint statement with Kenya Railways that it is ‘piloting’ 20,000 packs per week as it continues to streamline the process for full migration from road to rail transport. KTDA Holdings Ltd Chairman David Ichoho said the partnership is expected to decongest roads and streamline flow of tea ahead of export.

Under the partnership, tea from KTDA-managed factories will be transported from the tea growing counties to the Nairobi Freight Terminal where it will be loaded onto Kenya Railways wagons and transported to the Port of Mombasa.

KTDA is ‘piloting’ 20,000 packs per week as it continues to streamline the process. [Omondi Onyango, Standard]

The maiden trip from the partnership saw KTDA transport 31 containers of packed tea which translates to 800 tonnes via the SGR. The first batch of KTDA tea hauled by Kenya Railways reached Mombasa. Principal Secretary in State Department for Crop Development and Agricultural Research, Hamadi Boga, noted that the move to transport tea via SGR is an innovative step that will lower tea transport costs and deliver better value to farmers.

“Plans to transport tea via Kenya Railways have been in the pipeline for a while now as we explored new technologies and infrastructure to enhance efficiencies in the tea supply chain. We are cognizant that the progression to Kenya Railways will guarantee faster, safer and more convenient transportation of tea,” said Prof Boga. Kenya Railways Managing Director Phillip Mainga said that Kenya Railways guarantees large volumes of cargo transported over shortened transit times due to high haulage capacity and the high speeds of the trains.

Tea leaves at a collection centre in Nandi Hills, Nandi County, 2016. [Kevin Tunoi, Standard]

“We have enough capacity to handle all the cargo you can bring our way.

At the moment we are running nine to 11 freight trains every day between Mombasa and Nairobi and we are able to do even more if need be,” said Mr Mainga. “But of paramount importance is the promise our service offers. We are always on time and the safety of your cargo is guaranteed.” “Every year, we move about 300 million kilograms of processed teas and we expect these large volumes will mean greater savings for farmers as we progressively migrate to the Kenya Railways.

Initially, we expect to transport 20,000 packages every week as we fine-tune the system and processes before full migration,” said KTDA Holdings Ltd Chairman, David Ichoho. Kenya Railways will soon commence transhipment of cargo from the Standard Gauge Railway on to the Metre Gauge Railway line at Longonot station. This move will ensure that cargo is transported seamlessly via rail from the Port of Mombasa to Malaba and Kisumu.

As a result, the firm will attract more customers, especially cargo destined for Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

KTDA is setting up a tea handling facility next to the Nairobi Inland Container Depot that will handle all teas for onward transportation by Kenya Railways; underscoring KTDA’s commitment to the new mode of transporting teas.

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