Kenya has rejected Uganda’s request for optional use of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) to haul goods destined for Kampala.
Ugandan Transport Minister Edward Katumba had asked his Kenyan counterpart James Macharia to reconsider the May 22 directive.
Kenya has ordered that all cargo from Mombasa Port be ferried to the Naivasha Inland Container Depot (ICD) for clearance as of Monday.
Macharia told Uganda that the ICD has cargo handling equipment – terminal tractors, reach stackers and forklifts, same as those at Mombasa port and Nairobi ICD.
Macharia has further encouraged Uganda to consider using the facility citing its competitive advantage over roads.
The CS positioned the facility’s installations among them the SGR, a stacking yard with a capacity of 4,000 twenty-foot equivalent units.
On rates, Macharia said there would be no other charges since the Naivasha ICD is operating on the same model as Nairobi ICD.
He asked cargo movers to take advantage of the 30-day free storage period for all imports under the promotional program for Naivasha ICD.
“The land allocated to Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan are still available once our partner states are ready,” the letter reads.
Macharia further states there is sufficient space for parking and that it would be cheaper to use the facility compared with the road.
According to the ministry, it would cost a transporter USD 1,930 (Sh206,000) and USD 2,180 (Sh232,700) to haul a 20ft and 40 feet container respectively.
“The SGR option from Mombasa to Naivasha shortens the road distance by 552 kilometres and therefore supports the containment of Covid-19 pandemic,” the CS said.
Macharia also spoke of plans to revitalize the meter-gauge railway between Mombasa and Malaba border.
“There are also plans to develop a meter-gauge railway link to Naivasha ICD to provide a seamless transfer of cargo between it and SGR in the next six months,” he said.
The ministry says it is ready to engage Uganda and other players to address ‘any challenges that may adversely impact seamless transportation and its attendant benefits.’
Coast leaders, truckers and clearing agents have also opposed the move saying there should be room for one to choose their preferred mode of transport.