March 4 - Early in 2014, East African transport and logistics provider Kenfreight was awarded a project by Spanish company Iberdrola to transport 38 wind turbines for the Kinangop wind farm project, located about 160 km north of Nairobi near the Aberdares

The cargo is being shipped into the Kenyan port of Mombasa from the three Chinese ports of Dalian, Qingdao and Jiangyin onboard four separate multipurpose vessels. So far Kenfreight has received two vessels carrying ten turbines, with the next two vessels scheduled to arrive in early 2015.

The entire consignment consists of 269 out-of-gauge components, including tower sections measuring from 22 to 30 m long and weighing in between 37 and 52 tonnes; 58-tonne nacelles; nose hubs, weighing around 23 tonnes; and 40 m long blades.

Due to congestion in Mombasa, Roel Derudder, general manager of Kenfreight, explained that the company had the difficult task of unloading the heavy and outsize cargoes in the middle of stacks of containers. This also meant that it was not possible to leave any of the units standing on the quay for a long time, said Derudder.

Some of the nacelles are currently being stored at a staging yard in Mombasa, while other components have been transported to Nairobi for storage in a separate yard. Once the wind farm is ready to receive the components, they will make their final journey to the jobsite.

In total, 25 specialised trailers are being used to transport the cargo from the Kenyan port to the storage yard - not an easy feat on the African country's roads, explained Derudder. "The main challenge is the road infrastructure," he said, adding that there is only one main road - a single carriageway - between Mombasa and Nairobi.

"To give an example of the extent of the challenge," said Derudder, "the tower sections each had a diameter of 4.8 m, while the road is only about 8 m wide." Accordingly, it has been necessary for Kenfreight to close down the road at some points during the transport. Police escorts are also required throughout the operation.

Another challenge reared its head when the transport vehicles reached Nairobi, with Derudder pointing out that the cargo had to be moved through the city centre itself due to the lack of a suitable ring road. "We had to do a test run of this part of the transport prior to the real thing," he went on. "We only just managed it. There were some roundabouts where we only had about 40 cm clearance."

Derudder explained that, with a maximum weight of 58 tonnes, it is the dimensions of the components that proved the greatest test for Kenfreight, rather than the weight of the cargo. Moreover, he added, "the sheer number of units is a massive challenge, both for Kenfreight and for Kenya."

The 60 MW Kinangop wind farm is one of the largest wind park investments in East Africa to date, and is the first in a number of similar projects planned for the area. Construction of the farm is currently scheduled for completion by mid 2015, which will see the project deliver electricity to 150,000 Kenyan households.

Derudder, along with Kenfreight's group managing director, Paul Bletterman, told HLPFI that the company is hopeful that its experience in this huge transport project for Kenya will see more contracts of the type coming Kenfreight's way. The company is currently waiting to for a tender for the 100 MW Kipeto wind farm in Kenya's Kajiado County to be released.

Watch a video of the project below: