Rail gives Thika new lease of life

Friday, June 12th, 2020 00:00 |
A container being loaded onto a train at Del Monte Kenya Ltd factory in Thika for transportation to the Port of Mombasa. Photo/PD/Mathew Ndung’u

 Mathew Ndung’u @PeopleDailyKe

After over 10 years of waiting, cargo trains have roared back in industrial area of Thika town, breathing new life into firms transporting goods in bulk.

Return of the train to the Kiambu county metropolis has been precipitated by the ongoing rehabilitation of the 178km Thika-Nanyuki Metre Gauge Railway.

The advancement has significantly reduced cost of doing business for firms that have adopted the mode of transport, thereby spurring economic development in the area.

At least six agricultural, marketing, fuel, vegetable oil manufacturers among other firms that transport their cargo in bulk have started getting the services of the cargo train.

More reliable

Twelve more companies from the vast Mt Kenya region are also reported to have expressed interest to be served by the rail that has been termed as much faster and more reliable as it is least affected by weather conditions and traffic jams.

The mode of transport has also been praised for manageably carrying larger volumes over greater distances, making it more economical, and much quicker for transporting.

Among the firms currently enjoying the rail services is food processing company Del Monte Kenya Ltd which has been evacuating at least 2,400 tonnes of cargo every week to the Port of Mombasa depending on orders.

The company production director Wayne Cook, said the firm started to use the mode of transport after the metre gauge railway was refurbished.

In a span of 12 hours (half a day), the firm is able to move goods from its factory in Thika to Mombasa using the rail.

Cook said unlike the road infrastructure from Thika-Nairobi-Mombasa that is bumpy and damagingly risky to the goods they export, the rail transition is much smoother as they get less customer complaints.

“Using the road is good but the likelihood of our goods getting damaged is high.

It is our commitment to deliver quality goods to the European market and using the train assures us of safety and minimal alteration of our containers.”

Kenya Railways Head in charge of operations James Siele said with rehabilitation of the railway line that is over 80 per cent complete, the return of the train will continue to cut the cost of doing business.

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