Since the launch of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), there has been a tussle between the government and importers after the former issued a directive forcing importers to use the SGR and the Inland Container Depot (ICD) in Embakasi. However, that tension is expected to ease with the launch of Through Bill of Lading (TBL) containers by Maersk Line that will reduce the cost transportation.
“Moving goods shipped by Maersk Line to Mombasa onward through inland corridors in a timely and efficient manner is crucial to our customers. Solutions to transport massive cargo volumes quickly, safely and efficiently to delivery destinations from outside Kenya gives our customers the ability to better control their supply chain,” said Mr. Maersk Line Eastern Africa Managing Director Mr. Mads Skov-Hansan.
In shipping, a conventional Bill of Lading acts a cargo receipt, specifying the details of the goods being transported in addition to the port destination. A TBL container, on the other hand, uses a Through Bill of Lading (TBL) which is special as it allows shipping of goods beyond the port and to the interior-the importers’ destination, their company, warehouse etc.
Maersk has already transported 108 TBL containers to the inland port in Embakasi through the SGR, which importers won’t have to pay for their return to Mombasa.
With the TBL containers, importers will now state the destination of their cargo as the Embakasi Inland Container Depot (ICD) instead of the port. Before this, since the destination of containers was stated as the Kilindini Port in Mombasa, importers who collected their containers from the Embakasi Inland Container Depot (ICD) had to transport them back to the Mombasa port at their own cost. Which was expensive and made the use of the inland port unattractive.
In March this year, in a move to boost the use of the SGR and the inland port, the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) cut container handling tariffs, dropping the handling charges for a 20-foot container from $103 to $80 and a 40-foot container from $157 to $120. However, uptake of the new transport route was still hampered by the extra cost of having to transport containers back to Mombasa, which has now been eliminated by the TBL containers.