Uhuru offers Museveni land to build dry port in Naivasha
Two leaders visit port of Mombasa and take train ride to Nairobi
President Uhuru Kenyatta has offered landlocked Uganda land to build a dry port in Naivasha town, President Yoweri Museveni has said.
Museveni was in Mombasa for talks with Kenyatta aimed at boosting ties between the neighbouring states.
The two leaders visited the port of Mombasa and travelled to Nairobi by train on the newly built standard gauge railway.
They were received in Mombasa by Transport CS James Macharia, Governor Hassan Joho and Kenya Ports Authority boss Daniel Manduku
Museveni said:"We shall take advantage of the petroleum facility built in Kisumu so that we transport our petroleum products across Lake Victoria and save our roads from wear and tear occasioned by the heavy trucks."
Museveni, in the company of his host, became the first foreign head of state to travel by train on the Chinese-funded SGR.
Museveni began a state visit to Kenya on Wednesday as the two leaders focused on strengthening ties between their nations.
Museveni said the railway line had ended landlocked Uganda's "perennial problems of delays" of cargo at the port of Mombasa. He hoped it would be extended to reach Uganda's capital, Kampala.
“With reinforcement for the inter-land economy, we are looking forward to the extension of the SGR.
"I know that once completed it will take 24 hours to Kampala," he said.
The ride was seen as a major endorsement in the push for Kenya and Uganda to build a seamless SGR through Kenya’s western border to Kampala.
Financing for the Uganda segment of the SGR hinges on Kenya completing its line to Malaba.
In the past, Kenya has indicated that it preferred building a line further south of this route to its inland port city of Kisumu to transport goods through Lake Victoria to ports in Mwanza in Tanzania, and Entebbe, Port Bell and Jinja in Uganda.
Uganda’s first phase of SGR, the eastern line running from Malaba to Kampala, is about 273km.
Kenya is already extending the line from Nairobi to a designated inland dry port in Naivasha in financing from China.
The first phase of the SGR project from Mombasa to Nairobi cost $3.2bn and repayment of this cash is the top priority for the Kenya government.
Thursday was the second time, Museveni toured the port as he sought to resolve issues delaying his country's goods.
According to Museveni, prior to the signing of the Mombasa Port Community charter, majority of Ugandan businessmen were suffering at the hands of Kenya officials at the port.
He said some Kenyan officials were deliberately causing cargo delays.
President Kenyatta had to intervene and all the 21 institutions that are directly involved in the clearing cargo at the port of Mombasa signed the charter.
“Some of the people at the port of Mombasa were causing deliberate delays. They were thinking that they were doing Uganda a favour, not knowing that they were sabotaging the economies of both Uganda and Kenya,” Museveni said.
Yesterday, President Museveni toured the port of Mombasa to have the first-hand experience of how cargo clearance and transport by the SGR is undertaken.
Museveni and President Kenyatta were taken through a slide presentation which highlighted increased efficiency achieved at the port as a result of the complimenting roles of the SGR and the single customs territory (SCT) regime.
"I must thank the Kenyan government, and President Uhuru in particular, for ensuring that goods destined for Uganda are cleared in the shortest time possible at the Mombasa port. It is something we had grappled with for a while but was fixed the moment President Uhuru came to office," he said.
KRA Commissioner General John Njiraini told the two heads of state that the volume of cargo released to Uganda by the Mombasa port has increased greatly in the past three years as a result of both the SCT and the introduction of the SGR line to complement the Northern corridor.
He said this financial year, the number of containers released to Uganda under the SCT by end of February 2019 was 64, 015 with the number projected to reach 96,015 containers by June this year.
In the previous financial year (2017/2018), the number of containers released to Uganda was 62,022 while during the 2016/2017 financial year, 19,759 containers were released to Uganda.
Apart from growth in cargo volumes, other benefits of the single customs territory are the integration of the Kenya Revenue Authority and the Uganda Revenue Authority systems which has enabled seamless processing of transactions and enhanced cargo security through the regional electronic cargo tracking system.
Kenya Ports Authority MD Daniel Manduku said expansion programmes at the port over the last 10 years has seen an increase in cargo volume and performance.
He said Uganda remains the predominant transit destination through the port with total transit traffic of 9.6 million tonnes in 2018 which represents 86 per cent share of total transit cargo at the Mombasa port.
Kenya Railways Aacting MD said cargo transported through the SGR line currently represents 20 per cent of all the cargo cleared from the port which he said was a steady rise from a paltry 2 per cent before the launch of the SGR.
Kenya’s total exports to Uganda stood at Sh61.8 billion in 2017 while the total bilateral trade was Sh103.8 billion.
"We therefore need to put together the necessary measures to enhance this partnership for the benefit of our people," said President Kenyatta.