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Truckers want State to reverse SGR cargo order

By Philip Mwakio | October 11th 2021

Containers at a yard in Changamwe, Mombasa County. November 2020. [Kelvin Karani, Standard]

Kenya Association of Road Transporters (KTA) has urged the government to put in place fair and impartial solutions in the sector to help spur economic growth.

Speaking in Mombasa during its annual general meeting at City Blue Hotel, KTA  chairman, Mr Newton Wang’oo, noted that some underhand and unfair practices will not sustain key government projects meant to boost efficiency.

While citing the operationalisation of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) and the Meter Gauge Railway, Wang’oo said it was wrong for the government to compel importers and traders to use SGR when transporting goods.

‘’The government should not use illegal tactics that are against a free-market economic model, compelling importers to use SGR. This is unconstitutional and our courts of law have ruled to that effect,’’ he said.

He added that KTA insists on freedom of choice where the importer or trader has a right to chose the most economical mode of transport and allow both SGR/MGR to compete fairly without subsidies or underhand government policies that are unconstitutional.

“Examples of these subsidies is the Railway Development Levy which is charged on all imports coming into Kenya since 2013. To date, the government is yet to provide a proper accounting of where the billions raised from the RDL are being utilised. We want to know if indeed these are being channelled to government coffers,’’ Newton added.

He added that it was a shocker to some of their members who had won tenders to transport fertiliser from the Mombasa Port when after assembling their trucks ready to load at designated locations were informed that they could not do so since directives had been issued to have the fertiliser cargo railed to Nairobi instead. 

He said that KTA is demanding an independent investigation into the contractual agreement between the private facility in Nairobi and the government and whether correct public procurement measures were followed to give the facility the job.

Mvita MP, Mr Abdulswamad Nassir who is also chairman of the Public Investments Committee and his Likoni counterpart, Ms Mishi Mboko said they will not tire in fighting for the rights of the transporters in parliament once it resumes its business.

‘’I am eyeing the Mombasa gubernatorial seat and will not want to be elected governor of a ghost port city. While we support mechanisms and initiatives to boost trade and logistics, there ought to be fair trading practices that will ensure that all players benefit,’’ Nassir said.

He said that an official report from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) show that 27 per cent of the entire Mombasa County gross production was from transport and logistics way above what the other economic sectors like hospitality and tourism, real estate and housing, manufacturing contribute to the area’s wealth growth.

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