Reports that Kenya has suspended a recent order that all transit cargo be transported using the Standard Gauge Railway to the Naivasha Inland Container Depot has offered temporary relief to investors in the logistics sector.
On Tuesday last week, Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia held a virtual meeting with Northern Corridor stakeholders where the directive was communicated after a heated discussion.
The meeting came hot on the heels of a letter from the Uganda government opposing the move to transfer the transit cargo to the new facility.
At the port of Mombasa, we confirmed that only long-stay transit containers were being railed to the Naivasha ICD. It was, however, not immediately possible to establish the number of such containers.
Car Importers Association of Kenya chairman Peter Otieno said the coastal region should be allowed to benefit from its port business.
“In the past, the old railway transferred containers from the port to Nairobi and Kisumu ICDs and nobody made noise because the cargo owners had chosen to get their goods there. The government should not use Covid-19 or any other excuse to force a policy down the throats of cargo owners and shield SGR from fair competition,” said Otieno.
George Kidima, a Ugandan business representative based in Mombasa, welcomed the decision to allow cargo owners to choose how their goods are transported.
“Uganda and Kenya have enjoyed cordial relations and robust business and we want this to remain so. No trader should be forced to use a certain mode of transport. Those in the transport sector should be allowed to compete,” he said.