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Truckers claim State favouring SGR in cargo allocation at port

By Patrick Beja | November 29th 2021
By Patrick Beja | November 29th 2021
A tractor lifts cargo from containers at Kenya Railways premises. [Samson Wire, Standard]

Road transporters want the government to give directions on the formal sharing of cargo at the port of Mombasa between truckers and Standard Gauge Railway (SGR).

Through their lobby, Kenya Transporters Association (KTA), the transporters have written to the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) acting Managing Director John Mwangemi, asking him to reverse earlier notices to shipping lines and agents which directed that cargo to be transferred from the port by rail.

KPA management however said the cargo was being shared between the SGR, operated by the Kenya Railway Corporation and road transporters - assuring them that cargo flow at the port was smooth.

But KTA and several port stakeholders including truckers claimed yesterday that SGR was still being favoured in the allocation of cargo despite the September court ruling that it should be shared with road transporters.

“KPA still favours SGR in the allocation of cargo to be transported to Nairobi despite the court ruling. The court order was not obeyed. This is unfair and unacceptable,” said KTA chief executive Dennis Ombok yesterday.

Through lawyer Gikandi Ngubuini, KTA warned that the continued retention of the public notices amounted to contempt of court since they were nullified by a five-judge bench, and the State failed to appeal.

In the letter dated November 16, 2021, Mwangemi was given seven days to reverse the cargo order or be cited for contempt of court. The letter was delivered to KPA on November 22.

Ngibuini said since the court ruling was never challenged, the State's order on cargo haulage at the port was no longer valid.

“Consequently, the several notices that you had issued to shipping lines and agents to the effect that all imported cargo destined to Nairobi and the hinterland must be conveyed by the SGR and cleared at the Inland Container Depot Nairobi is no longer tenable and does not hold any water,” said the lawyer.

A statement by KPA indicated that cargo was being allocated to both rail and road transporters and that the port operation was smooth.

“Due to smooth flow in cargo off-take by rail and road, the port has continued to experience quick ship turnaround time and acceptable levels of cargo dwell time which has improved, reducing from 4.6 days to 3.1 days between June and September," said KPA in a statement.

“As of November 25, 2021, the container yard population stands at 14,933 Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) against a capacity of 35,000 TEUs or 42.67 per cent of the total yard capacity utilisation,” said the statement.

KPA said the region had experienced economic downturns caused by the Covid-19 pandemic that adversely affected shipping last year.

Last week, Dock Workers Union General Secretary Simon Sang noted concern in government circles over the drop in SGR cargo from 25,000 TEUS to 18,000 TEUS per month attributed to the challenge over allocation.

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