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Economy

Kampala traders ease Mombasa port use on election jitters

Gideon Badagawa, the executive director of the Private Sector Foundation of Uganda. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Gideon Badagawa, the executive director of the Private Sector Foundation of Uganda. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Uganda traders have gone slow on importing goods via Mombasa port due to election-related uncertainty in Kenya, reports show.

Reuters news agency on Tuesday reported Uganda shilling was unchanged as the Kenya poll led some importers to assume a wait-and-see stance, limiting demand for the dollar.

The reduced dollar demand suggest the traders have gone easy on importing goods, which enters Uganda through the Mombasa port.

The private sector in Uganda have been fretful to import and export goods through Mombasa port on fears of violence during the election period.

The fears are hinged on events of a decade ago when the traders lost goods and business worth billions of shillings after a shambolic vote in Kenya sparked violence which left more than 1,100 people dead and 600,000 displaced.

Although the port is much preferred by the business community, the abrasions of the post-election violence of 2007/8 has triggered debate on whether Uganda traders should consider the Dar es Salaam Port.

Ten years down the road, traders are still waiting for compensation for the losses they incurred following Kenya’s post poll violence.

The 2007/8 post-election violence saw Ugandans’ properties worth about $40 million (Sh4.1 billion) destroyed. Gideon Badagawa, the executive director of the Private Sector Foundation of Uganda, hopes the elections will be calm and peaceful — that Kenyan leaders and voters must have learnt their lessons from the 2007 experience.

“We have seen both the [main contenders] Raila (Odinga) and Uhuru (Kenyatta) commit to peaceful elections and calling on their supporters to avoid violence. Of course better said than done!” he was quoted in Uganda press. “We, nevertheless, are hopeful that the environment for business shall not be much distorted,” he was quoted in Uganda press.

Mr Badagawa added Uganda needs to have ‘a plan B’. “It might be a good idea to begin opening up and using the route through Dar es Salaam,” he said.

Using the Mombasa port costs about $1,500 to $1,800 for a 20-foot container. This is less than Tanzania’s $2,500 and more including more time in delays.

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