President Yoweri Museveni has rejected a proposal by the Kenyan government to clear all transit cargo at the Naivasha Dry Port.
Museveni said all transit cargo should be cleared in Mombasa and not Naivasha as Kenya seeks to reap maximum benefits from the Standard Gauge Railway which had been envisaged to transport goods to Naivasha.
Uganda’s Transport Minister Katumba Wamala in a letter dated May 28 and addressed to Kenya’s Transport CS James Macharia said that the directive should not be mandatory in a bid to ease tension among stakeholders in the transport sector.
This is after spirited protests in Mombasa on Thursday where stakeholders in road transport of transit cargo protested the directive. Wamala said that the clearance of cargo in Naivasha should be optional.
He maintained that Museveni people from Uganda are not opposed to the use of SGR in transit of cargo but it should not be made mandatory that it is the only form of transport for transit cargo and Naivasha Dry Port shouldn’t be the main clearance point.
His response came in the wake of a lucrative offer by Kenya. President Uhuru Kenyatta had offered a 30-day free storage period for Uganda at the Naivasha Dry Port.
Shippers Council of East Africa CEO Gilbert Lang’ at defended Uganda’s position as well as Kenyan road transporters saying that such a move will kill business for road transporters especially in Kenya.
“Since the government started moving containers by rail to the Embakasi ICD in Nairobi about three years ago, trucks depended on last-mile connectivity business.
“The concerns of Mombasa groups are genuine because their businesses won’t thrive with the opening of Naivasha port,” he maintained.
In the Thursday protests, stakeholders argued that the resolve to uses Naivasha dry port as the clearance point would reduce Mombasa port to a mere transit zone with no economic benefits