- President Ruto made an announcement that all port operations should be reverted back to Mombasa. One week since the President made the announcement, clearing agents are claiming that the operations are yet to be reverted back to Mombasa.
- KPA acting managing director Ambassador John Mwangemi told the Star in a phone interview that they have already started implementing the presidential directive.
Clearing agents in the country are pushing the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) to issue a public notice to shipping lines and importers on the debacle of the nomination of cargo.
In March 2019, KPA issued a directive that all transit cargo will be cleared from either Nairobi or Naivasha Inland Container Depots. The cargo was to be ferried via the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR)
This locked out importers from making a choice on where they do prefer to clear their cargo after KPA nominated Nairobi ICD.
The directive triggered protests from the transporter and clearing agent, but it was never reversed, despite several street demonstrations and court cases.
All transit cargo was offloaded from the vessel and loaded straight onto the waiting freight trains before being transported to Nairobi’s ICD.
Kenya Railways is currently doing an average of eight trains to Nairobi daily, each carrying 100 containers. This forced most truckers off the road, as they did not have enough cargo to transport via the road.
However, the KRC insists that they were only doing 40 percent of all container cargo coming to the country, leaving out the 60 percent to road transporters.
On September 13, during the inauguration of William Ruto as Kenya’s fifth President, he made a pronouncement that all port operations should be reverted back to Mombasa.
“This afternoon I will be issuing instructions for clearing of goods and other attendant operation issues to revert to the port of Mombasa as I made a commitment to Kenyans,” said President Ruto.
Ruto, who said the move will restore thousands of jobs to the people of Mombasa County, is yet to issue a written directive or gazette notice on the same.
One week since the President made the announcement, clearing agents are claiming that the operations are yet to be reverted back to Mombasa.
The Kenya International Freight and Warehousing Association (Kifwa) national person Roy Mwanthi told the Star on Monday that, “KPA is still playing games.”
“KPA must come out publicly and announce through a notice that the earlier directive has been vacated in compliance with the presidential directive,” said Mwanthi.
He said most shipping lines and importers are not aware that cargo can be cleared from Mombasa because KPA is yet to issue a notice on the same.
“It will only be fair if KPA management issues a public notice,” he said.
However, KPA acting managing director John Mwangemi told the Star in a phone interview that they have already started implementing the presidential directive.
“The reports by clearing agents are not factual, the process of returning port operations to Mombasa has already started and we have stopped the nominations of cargo to ICD Nairobi,” said Mwangemi.
He said shipping lines and the importers are also aware that nomination of cargo is now a preserve of the importers.
“They (importers) are now free to choose where they want to pick their cargo from. They are also free to either use the SGR or the trucks,” he said.
The Shippers Council of Kenya chief executive officer Gilbert Langat said importers used to pay shipping lines an additional $250 to $600 for their cargo to be shipped and cleared from Nairobi.
“Cargo into the country used to be cleared through the bill of lading and that would see an importer paying between $250 and $600 more for a container. However, the importers are now going to save much if they are allowed to clear their cargo from Mombasa,” said Langat.
He said KPA should allow the importers a choice of where they want to clear their cargo from and the mode of transportation, either the SGR of road transport.
Langat said KPA and Kenya Railways Authority should now rethink their business model to become more effective and competitive.
“An importer would prefer cargo to be cleared from a Container Freight Station (CFS) where they have a 30-day clearance period and a payment model of up to five months. At KRC they need to pay upfront and clearance at ICD should not be more than four days,” said Langat.
He said KRC should now work with transporters to offer the last mile services that will see cargo at ICD Nairobi is loaded to waiting trucks and delivered to the importer.
“An importer will be more than willing to pay say USD700 to KRC and have his cargo delivered to the doorstep. KRC will deliver the cargo to Nairobi ICD and load it to a waiting truck,” said Langat.
“KRC will get its share and the transporter will also be paid by KRC for the last mile services. It will be a win-win situation,” he said.
First Action Movement, a lobby group that has been calling for the return of the operations in Mombasa for the past three years, said coastal people have finally received justice.
Salim Karama, chairman of the movement, asked Naivasha residents protesting the move to give the president a chance to deliver on his promises.
“President Ruto did not infringe on the rights of Naivasha people, he delivered justice to coastal people and we congratulate him for that. Our region suffered economically following the illegal directive to transfer port operations to Nairobi and Naivasha,” said Karama.
Karama said that the movement was planning to lead a march on September 21 to the port to ascertain whether the directive has been operationalized.
“The return of port operations does not mean that now the Standard Gauge Railway is dead, it only means that importers will now have a choice to either transport their cargo via SGR or use trucks,” Karama said.
Karama said that the directive gives hope to the revival of the already ailing region’s economy.