Kenya: Govt Swallows Humble Pie in Edict On Use of SGR for Cargo

Standard Gauge Railway train arrives at Mombasa Terminus on May 30, 2019.

The State has backed down on its earlier directive on use of SGR for all cargo destined for Nairobi and beyond following pressure from regional economies.

Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia told Parliament that regional governments have demanded additional developments at the Naivasha inland container depot (ICD) before the directive to pick cargo from the depot can be implemented.

The decision is a huge reprieve to freighters who risked losing hundreds of jobs following the ban on use of trucks to transport goods from the port city.

TRUCK DRIVER

In May, Mr Macharia announced that all cargo destined for Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan will be transported through the SGR for clearance at the ICD starting June 1.

"We met CS Macharia on Wednesday and he told us that regional partner-States and other standard gauge railway stakeholders have requested additional infrastructure investment within the Naivasha ICD. These include an expanded marshalling yard," David Pkosing, who chairs the Transport committee said in a statement to the House.

Mr Pkosing was responding to a statement sought by Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir over a directive that truck drivers pick up transit cargo from Naivasha depot.

He said Mr Macharia confirmed that the Ministry is undertaking additional investments at the Naivasha facility including an expanded marshalling yard and works are expected to be completed by July 15.

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

The committee said the May order issued by Mr Macharia for freighters to pick up containers destined for transit from Naivasha ICD was informed by the need to contain the spread of coronavirus pandemic.

"The CS told us that the directive was as a result of consultations between the East African Heads of States and follow up meetings by ministers responsible for transport in the region," he said.

Mr Pkosing said the committee and Mr Macharia reached an agreement that the directive be put on hold pending consultations with local and regional stakeholders.

"The directive that transporters pick cargo destined for transit from Naivasha ICD is no longer compulsory but is now optional. As such, we find this decision by the Ministry of Transport satisfactory for the time being pending our inquiry set to be concluded in a month," Mr Pkosing said in response to a statement sought by Mr Nassir.

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