Ugandan firms to pursue claim for poll violence loss at EAC

Trucks transporting goods to Uganda caught in a traffic jam at Mlolongo on the Nairobi-Mombasa Highway. Photo/File
Trucks transporting goods to Uganda caught in a traffic jam at Mlolongo on the Nairobi-Mombasa Highway. Photo/File 

Rwanda and Ugandan firms have stepped up their bid for compensation from the Kenyan government over business losses arising from the post-election violence five years ago.

The traders from the two landlocked countries had lodged claims for billions of shillings under the United Nations Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights that compels states to guarantee security of goods transiting through their countries.

“Compensation for traders who lost their goods during post-election chaos should be fast tracked,” chief executives from the region said in a statement read by East African Business Council (EABC) executive director Andrew Luzze in Kampala last week.

Ugandan traders said they incurred losses of up to $47 million (Sh4 billion). Rwandese firms have never made public the amount of money they want from Kenya government.

More than 130 chief executive officers of businesses from Burundi, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda resolved to escalate the compensation matter to the Heads of State Summit, the highest decision-making organ of the East African Community.

The group met in Uganda under the aegis of the East African Community’s Secretary-General’ CEO’s forum. The business leaders said delays in settling the claims had hurt the financial health of the firms involved.

EAC Secretary General Richard Sezibera is said to have promised to submit the recommendations of the business leaders to the Heads of State Summit.

Businesses in landlocked countries which rely on the Mombasa port for supplies suffered losses as protesters uprooted the Kenya-Uganda railway, blocked parts of the Mombasa-Kampala Road and looted goods on transit.

The Kenya Association of Manufacturers estimates that its members lost Sh10 billion in the violence.

The Kenya Revenue Authority estimates its daily revenue collection loss during the period at Sh2 billion while the Uganda Revenue Authority has said it lost Sh50 million per day.

The Kenya Shippers Council (KSC) estimates that the Port of Mombasa and Jomo Kenyatta International Airport handled a total of 771,000 twenty-foot-equivalent units (TEUs) and 293,000 tonnes of cargo respectively for the EAC Partner States, South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo in 2011.

At least 80 per cent of Uganda’s exports pass through the port of Mombasa, as do those from Rwanda.

“Since the last General Election [and the related violence], this position is no longer assured and traders from these countries are actively seeking alternative routes to support their trade,” the KSC said in a statement released on Friday.

In their meeting last week, the regional CEOs called for a peer review mechanism for EAC Partner States. They also want the EAC Secretariat empowered to effectively drive the regional integration process.

Kenyans concluded voting on Monday but the electoral commission had yet to announce official results by the time of going to press.

The election has been peaceful and the government hopes its outcome will reassure jittery traders who use local facilities to connect to international markets.

The release of official results will pave way for introduction of a devolved system of government — with national and county layers of administration.