7 January 2013

Kenya: Transporters Threaten to Raise Hauling Prices

Transporters have warned of they may have to increase the cost of transporting goods to various destinations if the deadlock over the axle load weight persists.

Talks between the Kenya Transport Association and Kenya National Highways Authority have so far yielded nothing with Kenha insisting on use the axle load rule instead of gross weight to measure the maximum weight of cargo on a truck.

KTA chairman Paul Maiyo said they are waiting to start the talks afresh after the deadlock between the two bodies before the Christmas break.

Kenha enforced the axle load rule in December last year after winning a court battle against KTA which had opposed the move a year earlier.

"Right now I am on holiday and I may not give you the exact position but we are supposed to hold fresh talks after the holiday period," Maiyo told the Star on phone.

KTA CEO Jane Njeru said the situation remains the same and transporters are hoping there will be new positive development. "There is nothing new. We are waiting. If anything new comes up, I will let you know," said Njeru.

KTA director Kiprop Bundotich said Kenha's insistence in using the axle load rule has brought about more corruption at the Mariakani weighbridge as some transporters now bribe their way past the weighbridge.

"This is hurting the honest transporters. Those who exceed the axle load weight just bribe their way past the weighbridge," said Bundotich.

He said transporters have now been forced to reduce their tonnage to between 24 tonnes and 26 tonnes down from the previous 28 tonnes.

"This means that we will have to increase the cost of transport because no one wants to run at a loss," said Bundotich. The transporters however called on Kenha to consider a suggestion offered by Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

Raila allegedly instructed that Kenha allow a window period of until the end of January until a consensus is reached between the two parties.

"But Kenha has refused to take that option. They still insist on use of axle load weight to weigh vehicles," said Bundotich. Late last year transporters stopped loading cargo to protest the use of axle load weight causing fears of congestion at the port, a problem that had already began being done away with by the port management.

KPA general manager in charge of operations, Captain Twalib Khamis, said last December the transfer of cargo from the port had not been affected since CFS operators had individual contracts with transporters.

Bundotich said transporters who took loans to buy trucks may also start defaulting in loan repayment due to the reduced tonnage they carry. This, he said, will eventually affect the economy negatively.

Container Freight Station Association boss Daniel Nzeki said cargo movement into and out of the CFSs remains low. "It is still at about 30 per cent. We had feared that it will get worse but fortunately it did not," said Nzeki.

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