Kenya to South Africa - The Kenya Freight Saga
I contacted Grant at Horizons Unlimited way back in January of 2000
about airfreighting a bike from Cape Town to Buenos Aires as part of a
At long last the trip has become a reality and my wife (Chenda)
and I have made it from Mombasa to Pretoria on our Honda NTV650. Yes,
a pure street bike! Not ideal but finances dictated we take the bike we
have owned for the past 6 years and 50,000kms. Other than some aluminium
luggage, BMW fork gaiters which I added when I first got it and a replacement
exhaust (the original wouldn't last the trip) it is unmodified.
We've made it to South Africa via Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe
and a short detour through Botswana with no problems not even a
puncture! Yes, a trail bike would have been a lot better but as long as
we stuck to tar roads (not always possible 100kms of dirt road
in Malawi at about 20kph was a real pain) it was easy. Mind you, in order
to ensure we didn't hit any potholes I didn't exceed 80-100kph and was
often restricted to 60kph. The important things are we made it and it
was almost always good fun.
We shipped the bike to Mombasa and this was really the most stressful
part of the trip due to delays of two weeks overall. We employed HC Travel
in the UK as our agent there who in turn employed a company called Quintrans
to arrange the shipping and packing. I left the bike with Quintrans in
early June and it was due to be shipped on the 16th of June. Quintrans
packed the bike and employed a shipping line called Rohlig UK to transport
it to Kenya. One of those two arranged for a Kenyan company, Kenfreight
to be the receiving agents in Mombasa.
The main reason for the delay was Rohlig sending the bike on a ship
which left one week later than the one they told Quintrans they would
send it on and was itself delayed by about 4 days. Rohlig didn't bother
to tell anyone this so the first we knew about it was when we showed up
at Kenfreight's offices. We introduced ourselves and explained they were
expected to receive our bike arriving on the week beginning 10th June.
Not surprisingly they couldn't find any relevant documentation at first
but a couple of hours later they had found out what had happened. Apparently
Rohlig didn't have enough freight going to Mombasa to fill a container
so they placed the bike with another shipping firm resulting in the change
of ship. I've thrown away all the paperwork as it took up too much room
so I can't tell you their name but their agent in Mombasa required paying
about US$120 which Kenfreight added to their bill. By that point I didn't
care as long as I could get the bike.
A further complication was I was never sent an original House Bill of
Lading by any of the companies involved which was potentially very serious
but Kenfreight were still able to receive the bike for me. I'm not sure
whose responsibility that was.
No sooner than we'd established the bike was on a different ship Rohlig
told Kenfreight not to release the bike to us as they'd not been paid.
I couldn't believe it! We'd paid HC Travel before I gave it to Quintrans
for packing. How come Rohlig hadn't been paid? The confusion over whether
Rohlig had been paid or not took about a week to sort out and involved
daily visits to Kenfreights offices and a number of e-mails to HC Travel.
HC Travel were able to find out Rohlig had indeed been paid but they had
a serious internal communication problem. We then asked Rohlig to e-mail
Kenfreight to confirm this which HC Travel said Rohlig did twice but Kenfreight
claimed to never receive. Mombasa was experiencing frequent power cuts
at the time but I don't believe they were unable to receive e-mail when
I had no problems doing so. Eventually we spoke with the office manager,
who ran the place as if it was his own personal kingdom, and he agreed
to call Rohlig to find out it they'd been paid. They said they had been
and later that day Kenfreight received an e-mail confirming that'... .At
least it was sorted by the time the ship arrived.