Truckers blame fall in new registrations on the SGR

Human rights activists, transporters, clearing and forwarding agents, container freight station workers protest the mandatory haulage of cargo from Mombasa to Nairobi through the SGR on October 14. [File, Standard]

Transport industry players have blamed the drop in registration of new trucks and lorries on the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) and a tough business environment.

Government data shows that registration of new lorries, trucks and buses dropped last year as players in the transport industry suffered competition from the multi-billion shilling SGR. The number of newly registered lorries and trucks declined for the third year in a row to 6,514 units from 7,460.

“The general decline in new registration of buses, lorries and trucks is partly explained by the availability of rail freight and passenger services since 2017,” the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics said in a statement.

The Truckers Association of Kenya (TAK), however, said apart from the loss of business to SGR, the poor state of the economy has hurt their business.

“There is the SGR factor because the Government is forcing people to use the SGR, but business has not been good in many sectors of the economy,” said Kennedy Karisa, the Secretary-General of TAK.

Demand for trucking services and lorries has dropped after the Government issued orders that port cargo be transported on the new rail line. The directive has since been suspended.

The truckers also claim that increased taxation by various counties especially to those carrying cargo from one county to another has increased the cost of doing of business.

Coaches dropped

“When you are taking sand or cement to Murang’a from Kajiado for example, you pay cess in Kajiado, the when you enter Ruai you pay, then pay more taxes as you enter Muran’ga at Kenol, the counties have brought more challenges,” says Karisa.

New registration of all motor vehicles increased by 12 per cent from 91,071 units in 2017 to 102,036 units in 2018. However, new registration of buses and coaches dropped to 1,065 units last year from 1,072  respectively, in 2017. The number of newly registered station wagons rose for the second consecutive year to 64,179 while panel vans and pick-ups increased by 13.7 per cent in 2018.

Similarly, the number of newly registered trailers increased by 6.7 per cent to 2,083 units. New wheeled tractors rose by 49.5 per cent to 4,040 units in 2018 sparked by construction projects across the country. The number of new mini-buses registered almost doubled from 459 in 2017 to 812 in 2018.

The registration of saloon cars continued to decline with 10,504 units registered in 2018. The total number of new motor cycles registered increased by 1.9 per cent to 195,253 units in 2018.

Registration of motor and auto cycles rose by 1.4 per cent compared with a 21.1 per cent increase in registration of three-wheelers during the same period. The value of transport and storage expanded 14 percent Sh1.3 trillion from Sh1 trillion in the period under review.