Political leaders from Coast struck a deal with the Government, which will breathe a new lease of life in the region’s economy.
Following talks with the leaders, the Government yesterday suspended a directive requiring importers to use the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) to transport all containers from the Mombasa port.
The traders on Monday staged a demonstration against the Government over a decision to transport all containers from Kilindini harbour to Nairobi Inland Container Deport. They had promised to demonstrate every week until the State lifts the directive.
Yesterday’s deal was arrived at following a meeting between the leaders, who included Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho and other Coast MPs, with Interior CS Fred Matiang’i and Transport's James Macharia at Harambee House. Others present included Kenya Ports Authority Managing Director Daniel Manduku and his Kenya Railways counterpart Philip Mainga.
The leaders said they had agreed that the directive from the Ministry of Transport, which had almost killed operations of truck businesses, would immediately be suspended.
Although Macharia had earlier announced that he had withdrawn the directive that had been issued by Commissioner General of Kenya Revenue Authority and Managing Director of Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) following complaints of loss of business by truck operators, the leaders yesterday told the CS the directive was still in force.
In Parliament, Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir demanded that Mr Macharia be put to task to explain why, even after he had told the National Assembly that he had withdrawn the directive, the business community was still being forced to use SGR.
“We agreed that the CS and his team will ensure this order is no longer in force. He will subsequently issue a Press statement to that effect,” revealed Mr Nassir, who was also in attendance.
Macharia, who addressed the media after the meeting, admitted that the directive had been issued without proper consultation prompting the Government to withdraw it.
“Today I re-affirmed to the governor and leaders from Mombasa that is the position for now, nothing will change,” said Macharia.
He added: “We know the port of Mombasa cannot survive independently. We are conscious and doing other projects in the region such as airport, where we are increasing airlines and highways among others. We want to ensure success of the port and greater benefit to the people.”
Joho said they chose to meet the national government officials to ensure the implementation of the directive was stopped immediately.
“What has brought us here is to seek partnership and address issues our region has been facing... What we ask them to do for us is to ensure what has been pronounced is executed on the ground,” said Joho.
Joho expressed optimism that President Uhuru Kenyatta's administration would ensure the directive was lifted.
“In the past, the President never gave me access. He would block roads so that we did not meet. But that is no more... We are going to speak to each other to look for a solution,” said Joho.
He said the directive had negatively impacted on the economy of the region, adding that it was wise to find a win-win situation for the county and national governments.
“We are now in the era of talking to each other, particularly when there is a success in our sectors. We will ensure we exchange ideas for the interest of ordinary citizens,” Joho said.