Kenya has completed issuing title deeds to five countries to establish dry ports in Naivasha, despite reluctance by these nations to use the facility as an alternative to Mombasa.
State House says in a statement that President Uhuru Kenyatta issued the title deeds over the weekend to Burundi, Rwanda, DR Congo, Uganda and South Sudan at the Naivasha Inland Container Depot, at the location where a special economic zone is being established.
These countries have previously opposed the use of Naivasha to clear their goods amid calls by Kenya to have them embrace the facility and cut the long journey to Mombasa.
“President Kenyatta handed over title deeds to five East African countries that were allocated land at the Naivasha Special Economic Zone,” said the State House in a statement.
Uganda and South Sudan were issued land at the dry port in 2019 and since then there has been little done in putting up necessary infrastructure such as cargo handling machines.
These countries have been reluctant to use the Naivasha Inland Container Depot as its key transit cargo handling facility despite Kenya’s push to relocate operations from Mombasa and Nairobi.
Truckers successfully moved to court in 2020 to oppose the government directive that would have seen them pick transited cargo in Naivasha, arguing that it was against their freedom of choice.
Transport PS Joseph Njoroge said it has taken a long time for these countries to use the Naivasha facility as most of them are not prepared.
“It is all about the issue of preparedness. These countries would require to open offices for their staff and equip it with cargo handling facility before they start using the dry port,” said Mr Njoroge.
The PS said the Naivasha dry port would benefit the five countries as the goods cleared there will not have to undergo any other clearance at the Malaba border.
The Naivasha facility comprises more than 1,000 acres of space with a marshalling area able to hold 700 trucks at any given time.
It costs an average of $2,100 (about Sh225, 120) to move a 20-foot container from Mombasa to Kampala, while the standard gauge railway to Naivasha cuts the amount by almost half.
Uganda is the biggest market for Kenyan goods and the biggest client to the Mombasa port, especially for transit cargo, ahead of DR Congo, South Sudan and Rwanda.
South Sudan takes up 9.9 per cent while DR Congo, Tanzania and Rwanda account for 7.2 per cent, 3.2 per cent and 2.4 per cent respectively.