Truckers protest order to transport all cargo through SGR - Beaking Kenya News

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Thursday, 22 August 2019

Truckers protest order to transport all cargo through SGR

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Truck driver Kennedy Bett spent 28 hours at the Mombasa port last week after the Kenya Ports Authority issued a directive to stop cargo forwarding to container freight stations (CFSs).
Mr Bett had already loaded a container on his truck but had to be cleared to leave the port.
“I was told that an order had been issued to stop collection of cargo to CFSs. The truck owner had to intervene to get clearance,” he said. Cargo is ferried to CFSs for onward transport by road.
Mr Mathias Mwandigha narrated a similar tale after spending close to 20 hours at the port.
Now, the Kenya Long Distance Truck Drivers Association (KLDTDA) has threatened to withdraw its services from the inland container depot (ICD) in Nairobi from next week if the government fails to involve truckers in decision making on issues affecting cargo transportation.
KLDTDA chairman Roman Waema accused the government of overlooking them during decision making on cargo transport matters.
“We have given the government until Monday to involve us in the issue surrounding ferrying of imported cargo using the SGR.
If this is not resolved, the government should seek alternative means to ferry cargo from the ICD in Nairobi to other parts of the country and neighbouring states,” said Mr Waema.
The Kenya Transporters Association (KTA) has threatened to move to court to stop implementation of the directive for lack of public participation.
“We have tried to present our petition to the government in vain, despite contributing immensely to the sector. We have given room for consultations but if they fail we will be forced to move to court to stop the whole process,” said KTA chief executive Dennis Ombok.
Mr Ombok dismissed the government’s claim that transporting cargo by railway was cheaper than using trucks.
“The government does not want to tell the public the hidden costs of using the SGR to ferry containers. It costs Sh80,000 including VAT to transport a 20-foot container to and from Nairobi using a truck but the SGR costs more than Sh90,000,” he said.
Mr Ombok said the government claims that transporting a container to and from Nairobi using the SGR costs Sh50,000 but it does not consider that one has to pay Sh5,000 handling fee, Sh25,000 for ferrying the container from the SGR to a nearby CFS, and Sh10,000 empty container return charges, he said.
He said that more than 50,000 truck drivers have lost jobs to the SGR.
Kenya International Freight and Warehousing Association (Kifwa) chairman Roy Mwanthi confirmed that the government was implementing the directive to compel traders to use the SGR for all imported freight destined for Nairobi and other hinterlands.
“I have received complaints from my members that they have been barred from collecting cargo since last week, I am following up on the matter to ensure that we resolve it amicably,” said Mr Mwanthi.
A spot check by the Nation revealed that only a handful of trucks returning empty containers from Mombasa-based CFSs were being allowed into the port.
Reports also indicated that KPA was delaying the clearance of incoming ships to manage cargo clearance.
Earlier, Shippers Council of Eastern Africa (SCEA) chief executive Gilbert Langat had also criticised the directive.
“Ship owners will be negatively affected as the time spent waiting to berth will increase,” said Mr Lagat.
The Kenya Association of Manufacturers, Container Freight Stations Associations of Kenya, Kenya National Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the Transport Workers Union and the Truck Drivers Union have announced that they will lay off hundreds of employees in the wake of the decree.
The move also means that the government will not collect more than Sh675 million advance tax from about 15,000 trucks each year. The government is betting on revenue from the railway to pay the first instalment of the Sh324 billion SGR loan in January.

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