Interesting and Unique Ways To Use Shipping Containers

Shipping containers are typically used in the world of freight and forwarding for transportation of cargo. Shipping containers have numerous uses, which is why they have been popping up everywhere.

Cargo containers can be reused and recycled to come up with unique and creative solutions. These humble shipping containers are not only amazing for adding more storage or space; they can also be transformed innovatively into art and a range of other interesting ideas that might never have crossed your mind. Here are some of the most unique and interesting ways to use shipping containers:

Swimming pools

Shipping containers are now being used all over the world for the construction of swimming pools. The use of containers for swimming pools is popular because the containers can be drained and transported into your new home just in case you move houses in the future. The container has to be cleaned thoroughly with anti-corrosive paint before being lined with insulation foam and a pool liner for it to be safe to use. The construction process sounds boring, but the end result is simply amazing!

Video of swimming container

Theaters, pubs, and bars

Club owners and business owners are now commonly reprocessing inter-modal containers and turning them into bars, pubs, and theaters. Although such structures are not designed to last for very long, they provide the perfect spot for hanging out and chilling. In Kenya, bars such as Space Lounge have used inter-modal containers for design aspects well.


It is not unusual to see the use of shipping containers in schools. The containers have replaced the need for a traditional brick and mortar structure which can be expensive to complete. The use of containers for classrooms has become a noteworthy trend particularly in some of the African countries.

Shipping container homes

Homeowners have also not been left behind by the use of shipping containers for homes. There are some pretty cool and interesting designs of shipping containers out there for clubhouses, rooftop retreat, and in some cases, the shipping containers have been used for small holiday shacks

This shipping container home located on a 90-acre plot sits on top of a Californian mountain. Every container has been designed to maximize the views of the landscape while providing privacy in a secluded spot.

Other beautiful container homes…

For water and electricity

A company known as the Off-Grid Box has been supplying water and electricity to various parts of Italy, Boston, and Rwanda. The Off-grid box is designed with hardware such as a solar panel that is needed to produce clean water and electricity. Thanks to the rugged design of the shipping container, the string steel structure can survive in an extreme environment, which makes it cost effective and inexpensive to maintain.



Hotels and boutique resorts have also used shipping contained as base structures for many hotels in the world.


Photo source: design boom

For instance, Hong Kong’s the Hive In designed by OVA Studios is slated to have more than 20 shipping contained stacked on top of each other. The rooms created can be transported to any location because the containers can be slotted or plugged without disturbing any contained above them.

For student housing

This shipping container design by Bjarke Ingels was designed to offer young students studying in Copenhagen affordable and sustainable housing.





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How to import used Japanese cars to Kenya

  • If you are like many and are wondering how to import a used Japanese car to Kenya, you are not alone. As a matter of fact, according to the Daily Nation, selling and buying used Japanese cars has never been a better business in Kenya. In 2014, alone, more than 100,000 used Japanese cars were imported making Japanese cars some of the most used varieties of vehicles in Kenya.  Japanese second-hand vehicles can be purchased practically from any car yard in Kenya.  You can also get them from various local private dealers; however, the deals tend to be expensive.

Why you should import used Japanese cars to Kenya

Did you know that you can import used Japanese cars to Kenya by yourself very easily? The process is actually not as complicated as many assume it will be. As a matter of fact, you can save up to KES 200,000 if you import your used cars yourself. Additionally, most second-hand cars available for purchase in Kenya are originally from Japan. This is because Japanese cars are right-hand drive, which means that they can be used on Kenyan roads. Japanese vehicle models are also considerably less expensive for Kenyan buyers than say German or American brands.

Japanese used cars are favored for their quality and price, which is why most people would rather go to the trouble of importing the cars themselves at a much lower price. After a few years of use, many Japanese people prefer to move on to another vehicle therefore genuine mileage is typically guaranteed when buying Japanese used cars.

How to import a used Japanese car to Kenya: a step by step guide

Step 1: Look for a seller

The first phase of importing a used Japanese car to Kenya starts with the process of finding a dealer. You can visit any major Japanese car dealer’s website to identify the make or the model of the car that you want to buy. There are numerous companies to choose from which can make the selection process daunting, but if you are aware of what you are looking for, the process is generally much less complicated.

When looking for a seller, conduct thorough research. Ask your friends that have real experience shipping used Japanese cars to Kenya. Also, ensure that you ask your vendor for testimonials of real Kenyans that have purchased their goods

Step 2: Identify your brand

Select or define the model, year of manufacture and brand of the car that you want. Please note that as per KEBS standards, cars which are older than 8 years old are not allowed in Kenya. Kenya Customs enforces this rule which only allows cars that were manufactured in 2008 onwards to be imported.

Step 3: Make your purchase order

Make your purchase order from your selected seller. A purchase order or PO is basically a request from you instructing your seller to provide you with a Proforma Invoice. Your purchase order might include:

FOB information/price- FOB stands for Freight on Board. The FOB  is not the complete cost of your vehicle because the car still has to be inspected by JEVIC which is the equivalent of the KEBS body in Kenya. JEVIC’s job is to ensure that the quality standards of your used Japanese car are adhered to before any shipping takes place.

CIF price- the CIF price stands for the Cost of Insurance and Freight. This amount is the final cost of importing your used Japanese vehicle. Most sellers will reduce the final CIF price if you negotiate properly or depending on the number of units you are importing from your preferred dealer.

Step 4: Accept the Motor Sale Agreement contract

At this juncture, you will have to accept the Motor Sale Agreement contract, which is the final invoice. You receive the invoice by remitting the cash to your seller’s bank account. In most cases, you can pay the money via Telegraphic transfer, which is referred to as T/T by many Kenyan banks.  Ensure that you ask the teller to copy vital details such as the brand, engine, and reference number on the Transfer Form because they are crucial.

Step 5: Send your transfer form to your seller

Scan the transfer form from the bank and send it to your seller. The seller will then notify you by email when and if your car is ready to be shipped to Kenya. It characteristically takes about a week for the inspection to take place and for your vehicle to be transferred to the loading bay or one of the Japanese ports.

Step 6: Confirm your shipping address

The next step involves verifying your address for your Bill of Landing or B/L.  Your chosen seller will ask you to confirm the address for your B/L copies, which will essentially prove that the car is yours. Most Japanese traders prefer to send the B/L copies via courier service.

Step 7: Transfer the clearing services to Sidoman

Once you receive your B/L copy, you will have to transfer the clearing services to a reliable listed agent with KRA like Sidoman.  Sidoman will then process your import documentation through Kenya customs and clear your vehicle on your behalf.

An import declaration fee (IDF) of 2.25% of the CIF value, which is usually a minimum of KES 5,000 is payable. CIF refers to the customs value of your vehicle that is, the cost, insurance and the freight charge for your car.The final fee is determined by Customs depending on the value of your vehicle and the duty rate that is applicable.

Step 8: Get a Tax report

Once Sidoman declares the vehicle with customs, Sidoman will be issued with a Tax report. The duty to be paid when someone imports a vehicle from Japan to Kenya is made up of:

  • Import duty which is 25% of the CIF value of your car.
  • Excise tax which is 20% of the CIF value plus import duty
  • VAT, which is 16% of the excise tax plus the CIF value and the import duty
  • IDF which is 2.25% of the CIF value
  • In general, you will pay your vehicle’s duty via a banker’s cheque which will be addressed to the commissioner of customs KRA. Sidoman will then use your receipt to clear the car on your behalf.

Step 9: Pay Sidoman

Here, you will have to pay Sidoman a reasonable and affordable fee which includes the clearing agent fee and other port handling charges which differ from one vehicle model to another. Please note that your used Japanese car will take around 3 to 4 weeks to arrive at the port of Mombasa.

Step 10: Organize with Sidoman where you want your car delivered

After you have finished making all the necessary payments, you can arrange with Sidoman to either have your car delivered to you or you can pick it up directly from Mombasa.



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How to choose the right freight forwarding company for shipping

Selecting the right freight forwarding company or logistics partner like Sidoman Investment Group, or changing your current freight forwarding company can be a tough call. Learn how to pick the right freight forwarding company for your international shipping needs.

Wondering how to choose the right freight forwarding company for your shipping needs? Read this for some tips:

If you are a new importer or exporter, selecting the right freight forwarding company or logistics partner like Sidoman Investment Group, or changing your current freight forwarding company can be a tough call. Every industry has different expectations of a freight forwarding company. For instance, the expectations of an automotive company are obviously going to differ from a company that specializes in garments.

Some companies may hire the services of a freight forwarding company simply to transport their cargo from point A to B at the best competitive rates while others may demand value added supply chain services as their needs arise. Regardless of the needs involved, every business or individual wants to work with a trusted logistics partner because not every Dick, Tom, and Harry can handle international shipping with transparency and integrity. There are numerous freight forwarding companies out there, however, here are some top tips to find the best freight forwarding company for your needs:

Understand your freight forwarding needs fully

Before you can even start looking for the right freight forwarding company, it is important for you to understand exactly what you need. This means determining your preferred mode of transport, the specific services you require, as well as the details of what you plan to ship before establishing contact with any forwarding company. You should put together your list of requirements such as speed delivery, special packaging requirements, anticipated time frame, volume, and so on so as to be clear about exactly what you need.

Research the industry to find the right freight forwarding service

Conducting research into the industry will let you know what your freight forwarding company can and cannot do for you, as well as what you are responsible for and what they are not. Research requires that you read several blogs and articles to understand industry terms and the regulations required so that you are not lost in the process.

Ensure that the right freight forwarding company has years of experience

When looking for the best freight forwarding company, you only need to consider three things: experience, experience, and more experience. The international shipping industry is cutthroat and it is not the easiest business sector in the world to thrive in, which means that thousands of companies are created, but many never last.

A freight forwarding company such as Sidoman has been in the business for years, which means that your customs needs, warehousing, and routing problems can be taken care of before they occur.  Years of experience also means that the forwarding company has a wide business network and extensive business relations, which are instrumental for conducting international shipping successfully.

Ask about the network of agents and business partners

Your preferred freight forwarding company should have a strong network of business connections all over the world. However, more importantly, the freight forwarding company should have the right connections in the country/city of origin and the destination for your imports or exports. If you are exporting and importing to and from England, the freight forwarder’s network and connections may not matter if most are concentrated in China.


Ensure that you ask about your freight forwarder’s connection and years of experience in the specific locations that interest you. Sidoman Investment Group enjoys a vast network and conducts shipping from virtually any region in the world. This wide network of overseas agents guarantees a smooth flow of information that allows you to know where your products are and if they will arrive in a timely manner.

Can the freight forwarder offer the exact services you need?

The right freight forwarding company for your needs should be able to take care of more than just air freight or road freight for your imports and exports. Instead, the company should be able to take care of every aspect of your international shipping. If a freight company offers a wide range of freight options, it says a lot about that company’s network and connections. You may also need the company to offer supply chain value added services such as shipment tracking and cargo insurance for enhanced efficiency.

Look out for the company’s references

References are vital because they enable you to see the customer satisfaction rate. If the freight company you select has not received any favorable reviews or any reviews at all, consider this a red flag. For instance, Sidoman Investment Group has a review and testimonials page where you can go through the references and reviews online.

For the right freight forwarding company, Customer service is everything

Your chosen freight forwarding company should have the capacity to communicate well and promptly with the customers. Even before you subscribe and pay for a service, try and test out the customer service responsiveness through live chat, emails or phone calls. How long does it take the freight forwarding firm to respond to a rate request or answer questions?

The level and quality of service that you receive matters because the manner in which a company takes care of your needs speaks a great deal about their capacity to pay attention to your shipments. Don’t settle for an inferior choice just because their rates are cheap; the choice could cost you dearly especially when there is a problem with your shipments.

Is your chosen freight forwarding company part of a professional organization?

Reliable freight forwarding companies also have their own special professional networks. Before you pay for anything, find out whether the company is part of any trade association, freight forwarding network or any other applicable circle. Membership in such organizations goes a long way in helping to prove a high level of professionalism, efficiency, financial solidity and authenticity.

Check if your freight forwarder is financially stable

Aside from years of the experience, your freight forwarding company should also be financially stable. You definitely do not want to end up with delayed shipments because the freight forwarding company has financial problems. As such, it is always vital to check if your chosen company is financially stable. Freight forwarding companies are required to attain a freight broker bond, which is offered after a complete assessment of that company’s financial status before they can operate. Financial stability also means that your forwarding company can compensate you accordingly should problems arise on their side.

Determine if the right freight forwarding company meets all your requirements

Once you have ascertained that the internal workings of the forwarding company are stable and in order, then it is time to do your research.  It is vital that you research your preferred company in detail to assess if the company offers the quality of service that you require. Research might mean getting familiar with the company’s terms and conditions, as well as some of the common terms that are used in the industry.

If you follow the tips above, you should have no difficulty finding the right freight forwarding company for your needs.


Need to hear more about picking the right freight forwarding service? Contact us today!





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Don’t be a Freight forwarding sucker: Tips for getting accurate freight forwarding quote pricing

To import or export your goods at an international level, you need to get an accurate freight quote so that you can get a general idea of how much the entire process will cost you.

Getting started with freight forwarding quotes

So you need to get an accurate estimate of your freight forwarding quote or what your international shipping from Sidoman Investment Limited will cost you, but are unsure of where to start.  Maybe you are finally making that huge leap into international business (congratulations!) or you are importing goods from USA or China to sell in Kenya. To import or export your goods at an international level, you need to get an accurate freight quote so that you can get a general idea of how much the entire process will cost you.

It can get overwhelming and frustrating, particularly if it is your first time using freight services such as the ones provided by Sidoman Investment Limited. When getting started in the shipping process, there are specific details that you need to provide your chosen freight forwarding company to get the most accurate freight forwarding quote.

Think of it this way: Imagine walking into a restaurant, being seated at your table, but when the waiter arrives to ask for your order, you request for the check before asking for the food. Strange right? Such is the case when asking for a freight quote without providing all the necessary details.  The details that you provide must be accurate to not only get the right freight rate pricing but also to ensure that your importing and exporting takes place seamlessly. Here is how to get an accurate freight quote from Sidoman Investment Limited:

Request for freight forwarding quote a month before shipping

It seems like daunting stuff, but when importing and exporting, preparation is key. It may not seem ideal to request for your freight rate pricing a month to the actual shipping date, however, it will help you navigate the volatile international shipping market where shipping rates are constantly changing. As such, don’t request a quote for shipment that you want to import a few months or a year down the line because the quote that you receive will probably not be the same a few months down the line.

Quoted shipping rates are typically good for about 30 days or so if you are to get accurate freight rate pricing. The closer your quote is to the time of shipment, the more accurate your freight quote will be.

Tip: If you are not sure about your shipping timeline or which rates to expect, you can get a freight forwarding quote from Sidoman Investment Group on what it would cost to ship now, which will give you a range or idea of what it might cost later. However, please know that the rates may be different on the actual period that you plan to import or export your items.

Know exactly what you are shipping for an accurate freight forwarding quote

You’d be surprised by how many people ask for freight forwarding quotes without understanding the particulars of the items that they are shipping. Seems a little obvious doesn’t it? Your shipping goods can range from small household items to huge commercial equipment; the rules and costs vary for different types of goods shipped. For instance, household goods such as furniture are subject to different regulations and insurance requirements compared to commercial shipments or mass produced t-shirts.

As such, Sidoman Investment Limited needs this information to ensure that your item is not restricted. Knowing what you are shipping will also affect how the goods will be handled. For instance, if you are shipping 100 kilograms of edible food, it probably needs to be refrigerated no?

Do you know the size and weight of the shipment?

Depending on the size of your shipment, the transportation options such as air freight, road freight or sea freight will vary. It is important to be as accurate as possible when supplying this information because it will ultimately affect your freight forwarding quote. For instance, items transported in ocean freight containers are typically measured in cubic meters (or by the container) while air freight is based on weight and size. Extremely heavy shipments such as machinery can impact the final ocean freight pricing, so it is vital to be accurate.


Understand where you are shipping from and where to

In international shipping, the destination can vary from port to port, port to door or door to door, which is definitely bound to affect your freight forwarding quote. For example, you might need to have your goods picked up and delivered only as far as the port in the country or the city that you are importing to, after which your business partners or family members can handle things from there. Alternatively, your goods can also be delivered to the specific address of the recipient; it is vital to be accurate with the information that you provide. Ensure that you have all the to and from addresses ready particularly if there are multiple destinations involved.

Are there peripherals that will affect you freight forwarding quote?

To obtain an accurate freight forwarding quote, be sure to mention the peripherals or the extras that Sidoman Investment Group will have to provide to ensure that your goods are transported safely. For instance, will a lift gate be needed to lift the load from the ground into a truck? Will the recipient need to be contacted to schedule delivery? Such information will allow you to get the most accurate quote possible.







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WHAT THE FREIGHT??? Everything that you need to know about freight forwarding

Freight forwarding is the coordination of shipments of goods from one destination to another through single or multiple carriers that consist of air freight, ocean freight, road freight or railway freight carriers.

Image of Sidoman cargo-ship-used in freight and forwarding Kenya
Sidoman uses cargo ships for freight forwarding

Freight forwarding is the coordination of shipments of goods from one destination to another through single or multiple carriers that consist of air freight, ocean freight, road freight or railway freight carriers. When a business decides to export or import their products, such a business has to deal with numerous challenges in order to get the product to the customer or the recipient. To eliminate the challenges, a business will typically rely on the services of a specialist such as Sidoman Investment Limited, known as a freight forwarder, to transport the goods.

In short, a freight forwarder is a company responsible for helping you to coordinate your imports and exports. Such a company also deals with the logistics of preparing all your documentation, cargo tracking, tracking inland transportation, filing insurance claims, warehousing, booking cargo space, and so on. A freight forwarder takes care of the logistics of logistics so that you don’t get caught up in it all. Sounds complicated, doesn’t it?  Different freight forwarding companies offer more options than others but many will let you select the services that make the most sense for your organization.

So what does a freight forwarder like Sidoman actually do?
There is a lot that goes into arranging and processing international shipping. While a freight forwarder generally handles all the details of your international shipping, the firm does not actually move the freight itself.  Instead, a freight forwarder acts as an intermediary between a shipper and the different transportation services such as trucking, air freight, ocean shipping on cargo ships or moving your items by rail.

As such, a freight forwarder utilizes established relationships with these carriers in order to negotiate the best price possible to move your goods along the most economical routes; they select the best way to achieve balance, cost, and reliability. A freight forwarder, therefore, handles the considerable logistics involved in shipping items from one international destination to another, which would be incredibly difficult for one person or a single business to handle individually.

Sidoman's logistics of freight forwarding in Kenya
The logistics of freight forwarding in Kenya








Do you need a freight forwarder?

So you’re probably thinking: ‘Errr, sounds to me like a freight forwarder is just an expensive middle man who does not actually do anything tangible.’ While you may not be wrong that freight forwarders serve as middlemen; you are completely mistaken to assume that they do not provide tangible assistance.

Freight forwarders are incredibly useful and crucial because they negotiate better deals that actually save YOU money. Freight forwarders do all the hard work so that you do not have to -imagine having to research and remember every logistical detail of every country throughout your supply chain? Tough, no? You need the services of a reputable freight forwarder like Sidoman Investment Group if:

  • You buy goods regularly online from e-commerce websites such as Amazon, E-bay, and so on.
  • You own a business that needs to import or export goods internationally.
  • You own a global online business.

To determine if you need the services of a freight forwarding firm, you need to examine your personal interests and carefully consider whether jumping into the freight forwarding pool is a worthy investment.


Freight forwarding companies present businesses with numerous benefits particularly if a business is seeking a higher level of transparency in their shipping, as well as flexibility. Forwarding companies tend to have excellent interpersonal and communication skills and strong bonds with international agents owing to the competitiveness of the market place and the demand for the service. Speed, exceptional service, and efficiency take precedence for many freight forwarding companies.

Any size of business can benefit from hiring the services of a freight forwarding company. If you own a large or medium business operation that is active in various locations around the world and you deal with shipping significant volume of goods, then you will experience the greatest benefits if you work with a freight forwarding company. Freight forwarding companies know the intricacies of the business; supply chain efficiency is second nature to dependable companies like Sidoman Investment Group.


Organization and manageability

It is incredibly important for a business to remain organized and maintain control over the supply chain so that recovery can occur swiftly in case of a loss. Third party logistic companies can handle your shipping, however, these companies tend to be too occupied to offer the personal touch needed by many international shippers. For instance, if a shipment goes missing, it can take weeks to get hold of the right departments to get the answers needed to rectify the problem. On the other hand, reliable freight forwarding companies such as Sidoman Investment Group make use of their agile networks to trace the problem quickly and directly, which enables immediate solutions.


Freight forwarders are versatile in that they meet tight deadlines and they deal with unforeseen challenges. A seasoned freight forwarding company has all the vital resources to handle challenges such as delays at sea or when one of your shipments is diverted to another port. Freight forwarders know exactly what to do to react and deal with challenges smoothly.

Save money

Cost versus profit in freight forwarding
Sidoman’s freight and forwarding services can and will save you money









Freight forwarders generally have the expertise to negotiate lower terms with various carriers owing to the high volume of containers available. Aside from saving you money, freight forwarders also offer tips and knowledgeable advice that can save you from making costly mistakes.


Unlike third party carriers, who tend to insist on contracts and binding documentation, freight forwarders do not ask you to sign any contracts. This is because the shipping process is made up of numerous moving parts so it can actually hurt your business to be tied to a specific carrier. Freight forwarders allow you to select the services that work best for your businesses in the knowledge that you have the freedom to switch forwarders at any time. The freedom that you as the client enjoy helps to drive freight forwarders to keep the customer constantly satisfied in a bid to maintain their business.

the freedom enjoyed with reliable freight and forwarding
Freight forwarding should be reliable and stress-free











Although businesses can reap huge benefits from using freight forwarders, the services offered can also be applicable to personal matters or to single individual shippers. Forwarding companies help customers with:

Door to door service

If you are sending a package across the world, say across the Atlantic Ocean, what happens when your preferred carrier delivers your items to the port? How does the item move from the port to the actual recipient? Freight forwarders handle door to door services that ensure that your goods are delivered right at the doorstep of your recipient.

Sidoman door to door freight forwarding service
Door to door freight forwarding services deliver to your doorstep.










Value added services

Some of the value added services that are taken care of by a freight forwarding company include:

  • Purchase order tracking- this allows you to check in on your cargo throughout the journey.
  • On-demand reporting- this might include access to your order history and all the shipping documentation you may need.
  • Door to door cargo insurance- this protects expensive freight.

Customs clearance

This is perhaps one of the greatest advantages of using a reputable freight forwarder. Understanding the customs requirements for various countries is hard but handling the regulations, tariffs, and paperwork required by the ports of different countries is purely daunting and a nightmare, which is where forwarders like Sidoman Investment Group come in- forwarders take the anxiety out of the process of organizing for your international order and delivery by handling every important aspect themselves.

Do I need freight forwarding services?

If you are shipping items such as electronics, clothes, kitchen equipment and so on, a freight forwarder will certainly help to save you both time and money. Alternatively, if you are relocating to an entirely different country or continent and you need to transport furniture, your household items, and even your vehicle, freight forwarders are equipped to handle these types of personal shipments regularly. Benefits of hiring a freight forwarding company include:

  1. The company offers advice regarding selecting the best container for your goods.
  2. You receive tips on how to package and consolidate your goods.
  3. The right freight forwarding company for you also supplies you with Information on alternate routes for the best shipping rates.
  4. Vital details on how to comply with your destination country’s import and export restrictions.

Finding the right freight forwarding company

If you are looking for a freight forwarding company, you’re in luck! Sidoman Investment group handles international shipping needs of businesses and individuals from all corners of the globe. The services offered are all ranging including:

  • Clearing and forwarding
  • Air freight
  • Road freight
  • Sea freight
  • Warehousing and so much more.

Get in touch today for an accurate quote!







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Remember Mtongwe Ferry Accident and Avoid a Re-enactment

Commuters Aboard the MV Kilindini Prepare to Disembark. CREDIT //
Commuters Aboard the MV Kilindini Prepare to Disembark. CREDIT //

If you’ve been to Mombasa, you must by now know about the ferry, which is somewhat synonymous with the town Likoni.

Driving along Mama Ngina drive AKA Light-House, you’ll have a glimpse of the congested ferry loaded with people, vehicles, bicycles and goods.

For some, the view means something else – remembrance of the ferry accident that took place in 1994.

Successive Governments promised  to build a bypass or provide new ferries.

Kenyans whole heartedly welcomed the announcement by Government of its advanced plans of importing two modern ferries from Turkey to operate at the Likoni Channel.

The introduction of the two ferries would decongest the Likoni Channel – main route for tourists moving from the North Coast and into the South to enjoy the touted white sandy beaches – through which about 5,000 vehicles and 330,000 people pass every day.

“Our team is in Turkey to inspect the progress and the construction which is complete for the first ferry. The shipment of MV Jambo will start early June and by July 27 we expect it to be at our premises. MV Safari will be delivered on November 3,” Bakari Gowa, MD for Kenya Ferry Services (KFS) announced in a past interview.

The launch of MV Jambo was, needless to say, scheduled to take place before the August 8 General Election.

But a spanner has been thrown in the works after Bonriz Insurance Marine Surveyors raised red flags.

Firstly, it alleges serious breaches in safety and quality of the Turkey-made ferries. Secondly, it suggests that an upward revision of the cost of acquisition of around KES 300m is unwarranted.

Bonriz, who had been contracted by KFS to assess the Turkey-built ferries, filed a case at a Mombasa Court under a Certificate of Urgency warning that Kenya would be importing ferries “that are in real sense vessels of mass deaths”.

When I read the words, “vessels of mass deaths”, my medial temporal lobe quickly brought to fore the heart wrenching images of the 1994 Mtongwe Ferry maritime disaster where over 270 people lost their lives.

If I haven’t missed anything about this ferry debacle, it is particularly surprising to learn that KFS moved to void the contract of Bonriz and denied its staff access to the construction site after the latter repeatedly raised concern over the quality of the vessels.

“The petitioner [Bonriz] has persistently pushed the respondent [KFS] to provide answers for why it is permitting the use of low quality materials in construction of the ferries against the express quality standards agreed in the contract with the ship builder,” it says in its claim filed in court.

On Wednesday, July 12 Justice Eric Ogola certified Bonriz’s application as urgent and temporarily barred KFS from re-advertising the tender for the provision of inspection consultancy services.

It therefore comes as a surprise that the KFS – a State Corporation under the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure –  is planning to challenge the court’s decision.

Assuming that Bonriz Insurance Marine Surveyors have made full disclosure regarding its dealings with KFS to the courts in good faith.

Further assuming that Bonriz fully met the conditions set by KFS during the tendering process and emerged as the most qualified and competitive (among other parameters) warranting KFS to award it the consultancy, the question that begs is: “Why would KFS now not believe the report and concerns raised by the company it considered the best?”

The logistics of transferring persons from point A to point B should only be conducted when all safety checks have been concluded, as it occurs in air travel. Even after the commissioning of an aircraft, it undergoes regular checks by the airlines engineers.

That notwithstanding you will notice that pilots always carry out pre-flight checks, that include ensuring the flaps on the wings are functional, among others.

While cargo can be replaced, human lives cannot. Political expediency needs not play out in such crucial matters – unless of course the country didn’t learn anything from the worst maritime accident in its history: Mtongwe, 1994.

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Was the Early Oil Pilot Export Scheme a PR Stunt?

Oil RigWhen British company, Tullow announced the discovery of oil in Kenya’s Turkana County in March 2012, we were elated at the remote chance of joining the leagues of oil exporting countries.

As my jubilant fellow citizens celebrated the find; international media celebrated with us — going by the headlines back then. “A new oil discovery in Kenya is ‘very encouraging indeed’ for its export ambitions,” read Quartz Africa’s headlines. “Kenya discovers first ‘major’ oil deposit,” chimed Aljazeera English.

Fast-forward to the present where it has been estimated that our recoverable oil reserves amount to 750 million barrels.

The Government of Kenya (GoK) had earlier this year announced that it would begin exporting crude for testing in the global market: a scheme dubbed Early Oil Pilot Scheme (EOPS).

The Scheme intends to move 2,000 barrels a day by road — a distance of about 1,000 kilometres from Lokichar to the existing port of Mombasa.

It is normal for a novel exporter to send crude to the international market so that the buyers familiarize themselves with its properties.

According to the GoK, the EOPS was schedule to have kicked off in June 2017.

However, at the tail-end of June, the Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Charles Keter held a Press Conference announcing the postponement of the plan by three months.

“We do not want to start the export without having a clear picture of revenue sharing, we have to wait for the Senate to be formed, hopefully, we start the export after the election and when we have a Senate to approve the Bill [Revenue Sharing Bill],” Keter told journalists on 29 June.

In a swift rejoinder, Turkana Governor Josephat Nanok accused the GoK of looking for scapegoats in the name of Revenue Sharing Bill.

“The national government is unprepared and they know it, road construction is still on-going, the Kainuk Bridge has not even started…Tell them to stop looking for scapegoats,” Nanok told journalists.

Media reports have emerged, however, indicating that infighting within the Ministry of Energy led to the suspension of the EOPS.

One faction was keen to gain political mileage (with elections being only a month away) by having EOPS underway via road before elections, while the other one largely advocated for the running of the pilot once the 900-kilometre pipeline from Turkana to the yet-to-be-constructed Lamu port, was concluded. Tullow, the explorers are caught in the melee.

“Tullow is technically ready. Transporters have been contracted; 50 trucks and 30 tanktainers have been mobilised,” the explorer wrote back.

I am no oil expert, but I know Matters Logistics. The danger posed by 50 trucks and 30 tanktainers plying our congested Kenyan roads daily ferrying the flammable liquid for 1,000 kilometres is astronomical.

That notwithstanding, considering the small volumes (2,000 barrels per day) of Kenyan oil reaching the international market and its novelty, the GoK will have to sell at a highly discounted price.

Considering that a barrel of crude is currently retailing at $46 as per the US benchmark, WTI crude, Kenya’s crude would be lucky to get priced close to $40 per barrel.

Logistically speaking, it would be more prudent to hasten the construction of the pipeline which will move around 100,000 barrels of oil per day.

With improved quantities, the country stands to reap from economies of scale in addition to keeping our roads safe.

The plan to ferry by road is not only too costly but too risky on our congested and poorly maintained roads.

It should also be remembered that Kenya’s crude although termed as “good” is also waxy and will, therefore, have to be transported at high temperatures to prevent solidifying.

PR stunt? Pretty much, if you ask me. But hey, you didn’t ask. So I didn’t answer!

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Kenyans Should Brace for Higher-Priced Used Vehicle Imports

Imported vehicles at a yard in Mombasa | CREDIT // Business Daily Kenya
Imported vehicles at a yard in Mombasa | CREDIT // Business Daily Kenya

Of recently, my Eight years old son developed the love for cars. He started with identifying every Subaru on the road.

You’ll forgive him for being a millennial of bourgeoisie upbringing. However, there’s more to his new love for cars. He constantly works hard to identify any car on the road.

As recently as this weekend, he upped his game and proved that it is not just a coincidence when he asked me: “Baba do you know Lamborghini? ” of course I told him “yes baba I know it”, now that he got my attention, a big long-lasting smile on his face appeared.

Sometimes, inspirations finds you, a case at hand is the one I got from my son. So my indulgence into this topic.

If implemented, a proposal by the East African Community (EAC) may force middle-class Kenyans and citizens of the EAC to dig deeper into their coffers to import used vehicles.

In a raft of efforts to promote local vehicle assembly in the region, the report recommends for the reduction of the age limit for used vehicles into East Africa to five years by 2022.

South Sudan, Burundi and Rwanda are expected to feel the pinch the most since at present they do not have age limits set on such imports.

Tanzania and Kenya will be considerably affected as they currently only allow importation of used vehicles not older than 10 and eight years respectively.

The EAC report, prepared by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the EAC Secretariat, argues that fragmented policies on age limits has led to stifled growth of local manufacturing plants and the flooding of the regional market with rickety old vehicles.

It is estimated that about 85 percent of the 2.2 million vehicles owned in the region are used imports. Owing to the high importation rate, the region loses about $2 billion per year.

“Lack of clear policy on age limits has been identified as a factor contributing to increased imports of used vehicles, while also posing adverse impact on environment, safety and health,” states a policy brief on the report that was submitted to a summit of the EAC heads of state last month (May 2017).

The report proposes a staggered and unified approach in the EAC to achieve the lowered age-limit of five years.

It is recommended that by 2019 individual countries of the community should have limited the age to 8 years (where Kenya is currently at) and ultimately achieving the five-year limit by 2021.

According to the report, the EAC will invest in two assembly plants that will manufacture vehicles with price ranging between $5,000 and $10,000; with a target of producing 500,000 vehicles annually by 2027.

In a community comprising countries that hold each other with great suspicion, simmering sibling rivalry and inability to agree on international trade agreements such as the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union (EU), one cannot help but wonder how the two countries to host the manufacturing plants will be chosen.

Setting up manufacturing plants will have direct benefits to citizens of countries they are domiciled in, which range from: proceeds from land acquisition, setting up plants, job creation, import tax and VAT of raw materials.

Local businesses such as logistic service providers will stand to benefit from spill over effects.

In view of the foregoing, the roll out plans for setting up and rolling out such plants need to be solid ensuring the members of the communities benefit equally – location of the plants notwithstanding.

New vehicles are highly priced and out of reach for middle class citizens who will be affected by the lowering of the age limits.

If the EAC report is adopted and implemented, it will be laudable to see the region churning out brand new vehicles with prices ranging $5,000 to $10,000.

In the meanwhile, feel free to contact Sidoman for all your vehicle clearing and forwarding needs.

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Logistics’ Critical Role in Preventing “Skunky” Situations

Iko Toilet | Courtesy / StandardMedia
Iko Toilet | Courtesy / StandardMedia

Living in a multicultural environment is the best thing that has ever happened to us as Kenyans.

We get invitations from Kenyans of all walks of life, to attend their weddings and parties.

It is post-Ramadhan few days, you eat the food of different cultures and flavours, that comes obviously with some changes within the internal system as well.

You are at an outdoor event on some lush, perfectly manicured green grounds, with pearl white grand tents set up to keep the scorching sun from frying your brains.

You are very proud of yourself because despite waking up 45minutes later than you intended to, you managed to get to the function right on time.

One hour later, when the event’s entrée is being served up, nature calls and you recall skipping your usual pre-morning routine – which among others, includes bowel movement. You try to ignore it.

The impulse subsides, but only for a moment. The pain remains stiff, you feel as if a MOAB is been launched in your lower abdomen or intestine.

This is the moment you find small space in your brain to remember the Prophet and his companions.

It comes roaring back like a wave and your stomach rumbles making that loud ‘whale sound.’ People around you pretend they didn’t hear it because they are suave and debonair folks.

You’ll wonder the way they surveil your face as if watching the mouth of a ventriloquist for lips movement as your stomach acts like one naughty doll, based on the sound it bequeaths.

Beyond your control, the sweat gathers like a major political rally in Tononoka grounds; thick and fast the sweat trickles, as a result of pain and shame.

You reach for your handkerchief and wipe the sweat away as you give unsolicited commentary on how the ‘weather is too hot’.

Two more waves in under three minutes and you realise people giving you ‘the look’ and you just have to take care of business or the business will force its success in your pants or skirt. A very rare kind of business, this one!

As calmly as you can, you stand up to adjust your skirt downwards or button your jacket (depending on your gender!) and walk out thanking your gift of perfect recall which directs you to the precincts of the Mobile Lavatories as guided by the Master of Ceremony while making preliminary announcements.

In your mind, you know it’s going to be an in-and-out-operation, and you’ll be able to catch the Chief Guest’s speech and contribute in plenary.

As you briskly walk toward the now-most important room in your life, your eyes stumble upon this…

World's Longest Toilet Queue | Courtesy / Telegraph UK
World’s Longest Toilet Queue | Courtesy / Telegraph UK

What the heck are you supposed to do?

Luckily, Iko Toilets have developed a solution that guarantees such embarrassing situations do not occur.

David Kuria, MD at Iko Toilets is breathing new life into old rickety buses – that had been retired after years of serving the public as matatus – by repurposing them into spacious high-end restroom facilities.

According to Iko Toilets, such a bus can serve up to 2,000 individuals per day.

“We came up with the idea early this year. Unlike the traditional small toilets, this one can serve many people at a time. The bus also has bathrooms for those wishing to shower after the events,” Kevin Ng’ang’a, Iko Toilet’s head of logistics and marketing said at a recent event. “It costs between KES. 50,000 and 60,000 to hire the bus, but this can vary slightly depending on the event,” added Ng’ang’a.

The Ladies’ section of the Mobile Bus features two toilets and a bathroom while the Gents’ section features two urinals and two toilets.

As you would find in luxury buses plying long distance routes here in Kenya, the Iko Toilet Bus similarly have swanky interiors with huge mirrors, practical sinks, music systems among other welcoming features.

Unlike the traditional mobile toilets which are ferried on pickups, trucks or tethered as trailers, the Iko Toilet Bus can be comfortably driven to event site or grounds and parked for immediate use.

We in the logistics industry work in the full knowledge that old is gold; as evidenced by the transformative story of Iko Toilets.

Additionally, we remain innovative to get you out of any dicey situation that may turn ‘skunky’. Stay fresh, shall you?

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Airlift 2.0: Qatari Man Makes History Flying 4,000 Cows

Australian Dairy Cows. CREDITS |
Australian Dairy Cows. CREDITS |


If Eid-ul-Fitri falls before my next blog, please receive my Eid Mubarak best wishes upfront.


The shift in global weather patterns as a result of global warming coupled with poor policies and planning by some governments in the world have led to widespread shortages of basic food commodities.

This is arguably true for Kenya and our East African neighbours who are struggling with the high cost of maize meal, popularly known as Unga in local parlance.

Following a diplomatic tiff and ultimate showdown between Qatar and her Gulf neighbours including Saudi Arabia, where most of Doha’s fresh milk and milk products came from; there is a growing acute shortage of milk in the world’s richest country per capita.

Having already mentioned that Qatar is the world’s richest country per capita, it goes without saying that some of its citizens have very deep pockets.

Deep enough to import 4,000 dairy cows to fill the void caused by the collapse of milk supply by Saudi Arabia and her former allies.

Moutaz Al Khayyat is the defiant Qatari Businessman who intends to fly the 4,000 expectant dairy cows from Australia and the USA. “This is the time to work for Qatar,” Al Khayyat, who is also chairman of Power International Holding, said in an interview with Bloomberg.

Al Khayyat had already setup sheds for the cows which he initially planned to ship in September to his expansive farm – equivalent to 70 football stadia in the outskirts of Doha – where he already keeps sheep for milk and meat.

But after his country was ostracized, he decided to expedite the plan by flying in the cows instead of shipping them in.

Transporting livestock by air is no new occurrence and has been happening since 1924 when KLM flew Nico (a bull) from Rotterdam to Paris.

But the sheer scale of Al Khayyat’s plan is unprecedented.

Numbers Tell it All

Here are some statistics to help you contextualize and wrap your head around this logistical phenomenon:

The distance from Canberra, Australia to Doha, Qatar is approximately 12,250 kilometres and would take about 16 hours nonstop;

The distance from Texas, USA to Doha, Qatar is 13,000 kilometres and would take about 17 hours nonstop;

It would take approximately 40 to 60 Qatar flights to ferry the cows each of which weighs about 590 kilograms;

Airlifting the cows will cost the businessman $8 million.

Success of Animal Cargo Transport

Air transport is considered the most humane and safest mode of transporting live animals.

It’s safety however boils down to the ability of controlling three environmental factors that include: cargo compartment carbon dioxide concentration, humidity and temperature.

For optimal health of livestock aboard, the plane’s Environmental Control System must be carefully monitored while remembering that air conditioning performance are affected by the ambient air temperature

While a unique set of Standard Operating Procedures must be developed for Al Khayyat’s unique Airlift, the International Air Travel Authority (IATA) provides the Live Animals Regulations (LAR) that must be adhered to whenever transporting live animals.

The regulations are the global standard and the essential guide to transporting animals by air in a safe, humane and in a cost-effective manner.

Considering all these factors that have to be considered, you’d wonder how much preparations went into ensuring optimum conditions for all the animals, not to mention humans, that went into Noah’s Ark hundreds of years ago!

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