NAIROBI, June 30 (Xinhua) -- It is early morning and Eliud Muraya is busy loading the merchandise he imported abroad to replenish his electronic goods shop located in Nairobi's central business district.
The 44-year-old father of two is delighted since his consignment of cargo that arrived at the Mombasa port three days ago, has already been delivered to his premises.
The reason is that he chose to use the Chinese-built Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) which spans a distance of about 480 kilometres to ferry the goods.
Due to the improvement of its transportation processes, the SGR now delivers cargo at a shorter time as compared to use of heavy commercial vehicles like trucks.
The trader has been importing items for the past four years and he used to rely on long distance trucks to move his cargo from the Mombasa port to his shop in Nairobi.
Muraya told Xinhua on Wednesday that use of the road network to transport cargo to Nairobi used to take 30 days due to delays in clearing cargo at the port of Mombasa.
"However these days by using SGR cargo clearance takes less than a week," said Muraya.
Kenneth Abola, a 31-year-old trader, has been in the business of importing clothes from China in the last decade.
Abola has also switched to using the SGR in order to benefit from the speedy transportation and clearance process afforded by the modern railway transport system.
He said that his profits have increased because of the less time cargo spent on the road and is therefore able to deliver customers' orders on time.
Philip Mainga, managing director of Kenya Railways, said that they have partnered with the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) Alliance of Kenya in order to ease the transportation of cargo by traders along the SGR.
"We have a team that identifies cargo at the port of Mombasa that has been imported by small traders destined for Nairobi which is given priority on the SGR," Mainga said.
He said that small-scale business owners are only able to import consignments that are not sufficient to fill one 20-foot container, so they have to partner with other traders in order to have enough merchandise equivalent to the container.
Kenya Railways has also developed a deconsolidation centre in Nairobi close to the main railway station where the traders can pick up their cargo once the containers are opened.
Mainga said that they have a special rate of 54,000 shillings (about 500 U.S. dollars) for transporting 20 foot container between the port of Mombasa and the Nairobi SGR terminal.
The freight charges via SGR are favourable when compared to the road transport which costs at least 800 dollars between Mombasa and Nairobi.
Samuel Karanja, CEO of the MSME Alliance of Kenya, said that the SGR has revolutionized transportation of goods between the port of Mombasa and Nairobi because it offers faster and convenient service.
Karanja said that SGR has improved the operating environment for small-scale traders while ensuring that cargo importation is a viable and profitable venture. - Xinhua