NAIROBI, Kenya, May 14 – Rift Valley Railways (RVR) says it is now saving nearly Sh10 million previously incurred every month from the theft of containers or goods in transit.
RVR General Manager James Nyambari said on Friday that they had in the last two months installed anti-theft devices on their wagons and the move had minimised cases of broaching of the 40-feet containers which are more prone to pilferage.
“Our engineers have come up with this device which is placed near the door (to the wagon) which acts as a deterrence for anyone who wants to open the container,” he explained adding that 81 wagons have been fitted with these gadgets.
The trains operate on the old one-metre gauge travel at speeds of between 20 and 30 kilometers per hour making it easy for thieves to gain access to the containers.
“We have been having a lot of problems because people have been jumping on the trains when they are moving slowly and they are able to cut the seal and open the doors (to the containers) very easily,” he added.
These incidences have been common in the Kilindini and Maji ya Chumvi areas causing panic among the concessionaire’s clients as the safety of their cargo could not be guaranteed.
“Most of our customers have been complaining and they have been having meetings with us and even threatening to stop using our services,” Mr Nyambari revealed.
The management of the Kenya-Uganda concessionaire has in the last four years tried to turn around the rail operator with little success, a situation that has seen the volume of container traffic moved out of the Port at Mombasa remain at below 10 percent.
But with the fitting of the anti-broaching bars on three trains, Mr Nyambari assured their customers that their turn-around time and service delivery would improve.
Symon Wahome, the Inland Container Depots Manager at Kenya Ports Authority which has suffered reputational risk when such incidences occur, reckoned that the implementation of the standard gauge railway line would be the long-term intervention that will completely eradicate the vice.
The gauge, which was timed to be operational in 2013 but whose construction is yet to commence, is expected to have faster speeds of up to 120km per hour.
“When you talk about an electric train that is going at about120 km per hour, that will be a measure that will deter anyone from accessing the cargo,” Mr Wahome added.
The slow speeds also limit the number of trains received at the depot with the average being one locomotive per day.