New tea depot coming up at Nairobi SGR terminal

Peter Munya

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya (left) with Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) board of directors vice chairman Wesley Koech at Kapkatet tea factory in Kericho County on September 24, 2021. Mr Munya announced that the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) will be used to transport tea to Mombasa. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • President Uhuru Kenyatta says rail transport reduces costs and boosts farmers’ incomes .
  • Produce will be transported from growing counties to Nairobi and loaded onto trains.

The Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) is setting up a facility next to the Nairobi Inland Container Depot to handle all the produce for onward transportation by Kenya Railways.

This is after the rail firm and the agency entered into a partnership that will see KTDA-run factories transport tea via the standard gauge railway to the Port of Mombasa for export. Tea reaching the Nairobi freight terminal from the producing counties will be loaded onto KR wagons, then transported to the Coast.

On Thursday, 31 wagons carrying 800 tonnes of packed tea from Nairobi landed in Mombasa. 

Crop Development and Agricultural Research Principal Secretary Hamadi Boga, who received the first batch, said the train will boost transportation to targeted markets. He said his ministry is exploring new technologies and infrastructure to enhance efficiencies in the tea supply chain.

The PS said using the SGR will lower transport costs and deliver better value to farmers. He urged farmers to rely on the Sh327 billion SGR for consignments.

“Instead of using lorries, you can now ferry large agricultural products like coffee. We are among the largest tea exporters globally, we will continue using SGR to ferry goods to further decongest our roads,” said Prof Boga.

The PS said lorries will now be ferrying tea from factories to the SGR terminal. “SGR and Kenya Railways have agreed on the cost, which will reduce by 10 per cent of the truck charges.”

Safer transport

On Thursday last week, President Uhuru Kenyatta said that previously, delivering a container from Nairobi to Mombasa would cost Sh60,000.

“Kenya can now deliver a container for Sh17,000. That is a direct saving that goes into the pocket of our farmers, that is what development is all about,” said the Head of State.

Kenya Railways Managing Director, Philip Mainga, says SGR transport is cheaper, safer and more convenient than other modes, and guarantees large volumes. 

“We took only eight hours to bring this tea to Mombasa. You can imagine how long it takes for this tea to come from the farms all the way to Nairobi and finally Mombasa via trucks, that chain of movement has been too long for our farmers,” he added. 

Currently, Kenya Railways is running nine to 11 freight trains every day between Mombasa and Nairobi.

KTDA Holdings Limited chairman David Ichoho said they are piloting 20,000 packs per week as they streamline the process for a full migration from road to rail. He said one train can freight 31 containers of tea. The agency moves about 300,000 tonnes of processed tea annually.