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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

Kenya Bureau of Standards MD John Njiraini, Treasury CAS Nelson Gaichuhie and Kenya Railways board Chairman Pastor Awitta receives ISO certification at Sarova Panafric Hotel on Monday June 21, 2021. Photo via The Star

 

Kenya Railways has promised enhanced services after it acquired an enhanced ISO certification following an audit conducted in October last year.

The ISO certification was awarded by the Kenya Bureau of Standards.

The quality management systems for the Kenya Railways headquarters and Kenya Railway Training Institute were certified and awarded ISO 9001:2015.

Treasury Chief Administrative Secretary Nelson Gaichuhie presided over the ceremony held at the Sarova Panafric Hotel in Nairobi.

Gaichuhie said the certification allows Kenya Railways to offer excellent services to the public.

“Kenya Railways as a transport and logistics hub interacts with several customers daily. Kenya Railways has embraced the customer-centric approach and quality service,” Gaichuhie said.

He said the certification will support the government's implementation of the Big Four agenda.

The Big Four agenda includes affordable housing, manufacturing, universal healthcare and food security.

Gaichuhie said the certification will help Kenya Railways to comply with laws and regulations within the transport sector.

He said the revitalisation of the old meter-gauge railway, as well as the Mombasa-Naivasha SGR will boost the economy.

“The Commuter Bus Service has improved customer experience,” the CAS said.

He said the government was committed to finalising projects having allocated Sh27.2 billion for the construction of SGR Phase II in the next financial year.

Present during the ceremony were Shipping and Maritime Affairs PS Nancy Karigithu, Industrial and Commercial Development Corporation-Kenya Transport and Logistics Network Chairman John Ngumi, Kenya Railways board chairman Pastor Awitta and Kenya Railways MD Philip Mainga.

Mainga said Kenya Railways has undergone massive transformation since it was taken over from the Rift Valley Railways.

“We have been expanding our operations over the last two years. We wish to remind our esteemed customers that they are our number one priority," Mainga said.

Awitta said the corporation was ready to offer the best services to Kenyans and that its staff had already been trained to offer quality services.

He said risk management and monitoring and evaluation will be used to ensure that quality is maintained.

“Individuals will take responsibility for performance,” he said.

Awitta said a commendable foundation has already been laid as the corporation transition from the previous ISO 9002:2008 to ISO 9001: 2015.

He said over 100 employees have been equipped with knowledge on quality management.

Kenya Bureau of Standards MD Bernard Njiraini said the certification process is a strategic decision to improve service delivery.

“Enhance efficiency within your operations. You must comply to meet your objectives,” Njiraini told Kenya Railways officials.

He said the improvement in service delivery will have a spillover effect on the profits made by the corporation.

He said the corporation’s staff establishment should be based on competency needs.

Njiraini said the Kenya Railway Training Institute is a centre of excellence and will continue churning out qualified personnel.

“Equipment must be serviced regularly to avoid breakages and time wastage and exceed customer satisfaction,” he said. - Gilbert Koech, The Star

A plane takes off from the Aden Abdulle International Airport in the Somali capital Mogadishu. Photo AFP

 

Kenya has reopened its airspace to flights to and from Somalia a month after announcing the suspension for a three-month period, easing the travel nightmare for businesspeople and diplomats.

The decision, which was reached on Thursday after what authorities in Nairobi said were “intercessions made” for the resumption, signals progress towards restoring broken ties.

The Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) Director-General Gilbert Kibe confirmed to The EastAfrican that a ban imposed on May 11 had been reversed. 

A note from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to foreign missions in Nairobi indicated that the move was part of Kenya's efforts to revive relations with Somalia, which have been frosty since December.

“This goodwill measure has been made in the mutual interest of our two countries and in the hope that it will cause the full normalisation [of] bilateral relations between Kenya and Somalia , including diplomatic, trade, and people to people linkages that have undergone undue strain,” the note said.

A Notice to Airmen (Notam) on May 11 had indicated that flights departing for or arriving from Somalia would not be allowed for the three months to August 9 this year. Only humanitarian deliveries and medical evacuation flights were exempted.

At the time, KCAA did not elaborate on the reasons, but the move was seen as another dent in efforts to revive relations between the two neighbouring countries. It came just days after Qatari special envoy Mutlaq bin Majed al-Qahtani arrived in Somalia to help broker resumption of relations between the countries, with Mogadishu announcing it was reopening the diplomatic channels it had shut down in December over alleged political interference.

On Thursday, Kenya reiterated that it was a genuine stakeholder in the search for Somalia’s peace and progress.

“The government and the people of Kenya remain true partners for the peace and prosperity of Somalia and look forward to a renewal of the enduring bonds of friendship and partnership between Kenya and Somalia,” the Ministry said.

KDF strike claim

Nonetheless, tensions between the two countries remain. On Thursday, Somalia said Kenyan troops who are part of Amisom would no longer be allowed to conduct airstrikes in Somalia without Mogadishu’s permission. 

Osman Dubbe, Somalia’s Information Minister, claimed the move arose after the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) struck a compound last week and killed civilians. Amisom has since promised to investigate the matter.

Although Mr Dubbe says future procedure will require Amisom approval for every airstrike, this has in fact been the protocol under Amisom, under which KDF operates in Somalia. 

With reopening of the skies, focus now shifts to whether the two countries can reopen their embassies, which were closed last December at the height of a diplomatic tiff. - Aggrey Mutambo, The EastAfrican

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