Kenya’s tea producers are currently in talks with government in order to use Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) project for transportation of their produce to the port of Mombasa for exports, an official said on Thursday.
Apollo Kiarii, chief executive officer of Kenya Tea Growers Association (KTGA) told journalists in Nairobi that currently tea is transported by road but rail freight transport will be more convenient for tea producers given the bulky nature of the cash crop.
“We are currently in negotiations with government to give us a preferential transportation rate so that we can use the SGR terminal at Naivasha and Nairobi to the port of Mombasa to transport the tea cargo for exports,” Kiarii said.
He observed that most of the tea factories are in the country’s rift valley highlands and producers would prefer to use the Naivasha SGR terminal for exporting their produce.
“Tea is grown in 21 counties and is also the only cash crop grown widely in geographically dispersed areas in Kenya,” he observed.
KTGA hauled approximately 450 million kilograms of tea from the tea producing regions to Kenya’s main seaport by trucks.
“Road transport is not very safe and we have also experienced cases of missing cargo. But with rail transport we can achieve seamless transport of tea to the SGR cargo terminal that is located inside the port of Mombasa,” the CEO added.
He said that rail freight transport will also reduce time taken for Kenya’s tea to reach export markets.