Kenya

Uproar at mandatory SGR cargo rule

Uproar at mandatory SGR cargo rule

Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir during celebrations to mark World Tourism Day at Pride Inn Paradise Resort in Shanzu on September 27. He has warned against politicising the SGR matter.

Photo credit: Wachira Mwangi | Nation Media Group

Traders, transporters and a section of Mombasa politicians are protesting a government decision to reintroduce mandatory cargo delivery via the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) from Mombasa port.

All importers, whose cargo is destined for Nairobi, must deliver it via the SGR to the Nairobi Inland Container Depot.

The Kenya Transporters Association (KTA) and other stakeholders say the decision will paralyse Mombasa’s economy further.

The leaders, led by Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir, his Likoni counterpart Mishi Mboko and Jomvu’s Badi Twalib now want the State to reconsider the decision, adding, Mombasa heavily relies on the transport and logistics sectors.

“If a trader wants to ferry his or her cargo using SGR or trucks from Mombasa to Malaba, let it be their own decision. If a trader wants to store his or her cargo in a godown in Jomvu and later ferry it elsewhere, where is the problem?” Mr Nassir posed when he spoke at KTA’s annual general meeting.

Mr Nassir warned against politicising the SGR matter.

“Don’t think we will relent on this matter. We will fight for the rights of our people” he added.

Mr Nassir said if godowns close, many residents will be rendered jobless. The directive will affect some 42,000 workers in the sector, according to KTA.

Fair competition

The MP said many clearing and forwarding firms in Mombasa had shut down due to SGR, with the transport sector hurt by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The rule to transport cargo through SGR was quashed through the motions I presented in Parliament. I’ll continue supporting this sector in Parliament to ensure there’s fair competition,” the MP added.

Mombasa trader Mohamed Samatar said the directive will cause massive loss of jobs.

“Mombasa is the gateway to East Africa. If the city’s economy dwindles, the whole country will suffer. The move is causing distress and panic among traders. We want a solution to revive jobs in Mombasa,” he said.

The pandemic

Ms Mboko said Mombasa leaders will fight the directive as it had been suspended by the courts.  The port city’s economy, she said, has suffered due to the pandemic.

“The pandemic has impoverished us. Our economy has been affected. We’ve been left poor, but as we try to survive, such a directive is effected.”

The lawmakers threatened to take the matter to Parliament once again. This comes after a court suspended a decision quashing the SGR cargo directive.