Economy

KPA reverses compulsory SGR haulage order

port

Cargo containers at the Port of Mombasa on January 11, 2022. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NMG

Traders can now clear their cargo at the Port of Mombasa and choose the mode of transport to Nairobi and the hinterlands after Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) reverted custom services to the coastal city in line with a presidential decree.

KPA has issued a notice to quash a 2018 notification banning the nomination of cargo to Mombasa and compulsory use of the standard gauge railway (SGR) for ferrying cargo.

“This is, therefore, to notify all shipping lines that importers’ documentation of place of clearance and mode of transport for their goods shall be at their choice,” acting KPA Managing Director John Mwangemi said in the notice on Monday.

“Shipping lines are hereby advised to facilitate importers’ nomination of place of clearance, including port clearance, Kenya Revenue Authority’s licensed container freight stations (CFSs) and KPA’s inland container depots (ICDs). This notice supersedes the notice of 6th June 2018 on similar subject,” KPA said.

Shippers’ take

The Shippers Council of Eastern Africa (SCEA) chief executive Gilbert Lagat said the notice has ended confusion on the implementation of the presidential directive.

“This is very clear. We are happy with the directive. The place and choice of mode and place of clearance rest with the shipper. This is what we had been pushing for to allow cargo clearance and delivery to compete on efficiency, predictability and cost-effectiveness,” said Mr Lagat.

Read: Shippers accuse KPA of stalling order to revert port jobs to Coast

He added, “rail, road, port, CFSs and ICDs will compete on level ground. We expect the cost to respond to market dynamics as it is a win-win for all.”

President William Ruto issued a directive a fortnight ago ordering that all cargo clearance be reverted to Mombasa port.

Cargo transporters had been protesting the directive by former President Uhuru Kenyatta to ferry their goods to Nairobi or Naivasha via the SGR for onward clearance, saying it had raised the cost of doing business, with the costs passed on to consumers.

Read: Hard times for SGR as port operations return to Coast

Kenya Transport Association chairman Newton Wang’oo said SGR should compete with roads on an equal opportunity basis, which will ultimately lower the cost of transport and improve services.

“This is a positive move. We have been fighting against forced railage. Let us looks out for the implementation of the directive on the ground,” said Mr Wang’oo.

Read: SGR revenues grow 7.8pc to Sh7.1 billion

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