SGR revenue up 13pc in 9 months to September
Revenue generated from the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) grew 13.15 per cent in the nine months to September compared to a similar period last year, lifted by improved passenger and cargo movement.
Fresh data by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics shows that revenue from SGR operations rose to Sh11.78 billion between January and September this year, up from Sh10.419 billion in a similar period in 2021.
Revenue from passenger services between Mombasa and Nairobi hit Sh1.91 billion, representing a 28.19 per cent growth compared to the Sh1.49 billion realised between January and September 2021.
The higher revenues were driven by a sharp increase in the number of passengers who used the fast train service, growing to 1,737,697 travellers up from 1,354,383 in the previous year.
The SGR also ferried 4.55 million tonnes of cargo between January and September this year, up from 3.92 million in the previous year. This saw its cargo revenue also shoot up to Sh9.862 billion from Sh8.91 billion.
Fortunes of the SGR have remained bright despite earlier concerns that a directive by President William Ruto reverting cargo clearing services to the Mombasa port would hit its performance.
Many large importers have maintained their shipments on the SGR to and from the Mombasa port—citing convenience and minimal risk of theft or destruction of cargo.
The outlook of the SGR has also been lifted by revelations by Transport Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen that the Chinese-funded and built railway would be extended to the border with Uganda.
Currently, goods destined for Uganda from Mombasa port are transported by road from Naivasha where the multibillion-shilling SGR line from Mombasa ends. There had been hesitations that the Mombasa-Naivasha SGR line, which cost an estimated Sh477 billion, including financing costs, would not be economically viable if it is not connected to Kampala, which is a major user of the Mombasa port.
Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, however, two weeks ago announced plans to build a new SGR linking the country’s capital, Kampala, with the Kenyan border, raising hope for the completion of a similar link between Naivasha and Malaba via Kisumu.
“We’re going to build a brand new [SGR line] from Kampala to Kasese. Later on, we will [extend it] from Kampala to the border of Kenya and then to South Sudan,” he told the third biannual meeting of private sector chief executive officers in Karuma.
“We want [to lower the] cost of transport [and] improve our competitiveness,” he added.
Kenya had earlier maintained that rehabilitating the Naivasha-Malaba line and building another short track connecting the SGR at Naivasha is quicker compared to building another SGR.