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Kenya Transport Sector Profile

Kenya Transport Sector Profile

The transport sector in Kenya is a very vital sector as it facilitates most of the other sectors. In the first quarter of 2013, the sector registered a dismal growth of 0.6 per cent during the review period compared to the same quarter of 2012. The recently read financial budget for 2013/2014 allocated Ksh 97.9 billion for continued road expansion, upgrading and rehabilitation throughout the country both in urban and rural areas. Ksh 22 billion was specifically allocated to commence the construction of a two-track standard gauge railway line from Mombasa City to Kisumu City.

Characteristics of the sector

  • About 70% (44,100 km) of the classified road network is in good condition and is maintainable while the remaining 30% (18,900 km) requires rehabilitation or reconstruction.
  • The road sector currently accounts for over 93 % of total domestic freight and passenger traffic.
  • 98% of the people in rural areas do not own their own motor vehicles.
  • An estimated 40% of Nairobi residents walk to their places of work while only about 4% use bicycles to reach their places of work.
  • The maritime transport system in Kenya consists of one major seaport, Mombasa.
  • Kenya makes the least use of her portion of Lake Victoria, compared to Uganda and Tanzania as regards inland water transport.

Road Transport
Road transport accounts for 80% of the total movement of passengers and freight in Kenya. Generally, roads are the only means of access to rural communities. The public road network in Kenya is about 160,886 km in length, comprising 16,544 km of National Roads managed by the Kenya National Highways Authority; 12,549 km of urban roads under the Kenya Urban Roads Authority; and an estimated 131,794 km of rural roads under Kenya Rural Roads Authority.

The railway network administered by the Kenya Railways Corporation, with a 1,083 km main line from Mombasa to Kisumu and Malaba. Freight services constitute about 95% of railway operations and income. Currently, the railway system carries about 2.4 million tonnes of cargo per annum which is about half capacity. The Kenya and Uganda Railways mainline systems are under jointly concession to a private operator, Rift Valley Railways Consortium (RVR) in an attempt to increase efficiency.

Air Transport
Air transport is managed by the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA), established in 1991. KAA operates nine major airports nationwide, including 3 international airports, and 250 airstrips around the country. Ongoing infrastructure expansion works to the major airports are aimed at increasing capacity.

Maritime Transport
Kenya has one sea port at Mombasa, which is operated by Kenya Ports Authority (KPA). The port has 16 deep water berths. Cargo traffic through Mombasa port was about 20 million tonnes in 2011 including 770,000 Twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) of container traffic. KPA also operates two inland container depots in Nairobi and Kisumu. KPA’s strategy is to introduce private sector management and financing so as to improve the port’s performance, starting with the new container terminal under construction, conventional berths, oil terminals and marine craft.

Pipeline Transport
The only oil pipeline in Kenya is managed by the Kenya Pipeline Company, from the port of Mombasa to Nairobi (450 km) with extensions to Eldoret (325km) and Kisumu (121 km).The pipeline carries about 4 million m3 of petroleum products per year.


  • Poor Quality of Transport Services
  • Inappropriate Modal Split
  • Unexploited Regional Role of the Transport System
  • Transport System Not Fully Integrated
  • Urban Environmental Pollution
  • Lack of an Urban/rural Transport Policy
  • Institutional Deficiencies
  • Inadequate human resource capacity