Press Center | Freight Shipping Logistics News

Over the last few years, a great deal has been said about the woes afflicting the Kenya Railways and the performance of the rail sector in Kenya.

The corporation has been described as cash-strapped, technically insolvent, inefficient, and dilapidated. All those descriptions are truths that are rapidly becoming history. But one is bound to ask: How did it get this way and what is being done about it?

Aeromarine Logistics Clearing & Forwarding shipping tags related News


Kenyan above 40 can recall with nostalgia the on-time performance of the railway passenger trains criss-crossing the country, and the efficiency with which our farm produce was transported to markets.

Things began to go wrong in the early 1980s when the corporation’s only shareholder (the government) stopped investing in the railway system and politically connected individuals began to sabotage it.

The Kenya Railways became the place for politically-correct individuals to enforce the employment of their relatives and constituents, resulting in the bloated workforce that saw the corporation employ more than 22,000 people at some point in its history.

It became the place for power-brokers to access land and other assets, and a place to deliver goods that were not needed at inflated prices resulting in items worth billions of shillings lying in store. Now, these items are obsolete.

To add insult to injury, railway resources and manpower were diverted to build Kenya’s first car – a venture totally unrelated to the KR mandate.

Then came the the ‘‘big boy’’ clearing and forwarding agents who got preferential services from the corporation. These fellows even had dedicated wagons, deals that still leave the corporation allegedly indebted to some.

With this mismanagement came the failure to pay the bloated workforce for months on end. Having seen what was happening in higher offices, some members of staff joined in the plundering frenzy and the losses spun out of control. It is surprising that the corporation survived at all.

It did survive but was seriously maimed. It was left with a huge debt portfolio (Sh50 billion), a tattered public image, a demoralised workforce, and dilapidated or obsolete assets.

In this situation, the Narc Government made a good and still valid decision to bring in private sector capital, management and technical expertise to operate the railway system.

With it came the restructuring of the railway sector and a turnaround began in earnest in 2006. So this brings me to answering the second question: what is being done to change the fortunes of the rail sector?

One of the greatest tragedies of the past was that no plans were ever made for the future of the railways in Kenya. Not a single kilometre of new railway was ever built in 47 years.

In the last two years, Kenya Railways has developed a formidable master-plan for both national and commuter rail networks. This plan will support the country’s transport and logistics needs for the next 100 years and beyond.

These railways will not be developed overnight but the masterplan definitely formed a clear blueprint for the future.

These plans are complex and expensive affair but they will be implemented. What is required is persistence and focus by the Kenya Railways board and management.

The financial turnaround is on firm ground. The corporation can now meet its obligations without support from the Exchequer (previously, KR needed approximately Sh300 million quarterly from the government).

The corporation is also diversifying its revenue base by developing major property development projects which, when implemented, will change the face of the country.

The RVR concession, despite the challenges of the past, has been restructured with the advent of new shareholders and partners and we expect to see major improvements in railways services in the coming months.

On behalf of Kenyans, Kenya Railways will keep RVR on its toes to ensure the objectives of the concession are delivered. The giant is responding to treatment and awakening.

What it needs from its stakeholders is support and encouragement. When we implement our plans, Kenya Railways will reinvent Kenya. Watch this space.

Aeromarine Logistics Clearing & Forwarding shipping tags related News

Mr Muli is the Kenya Railways managing director