The Kenyan government has told South Sudan traders that they are free to clear imported goods at any of the two dry ports in the country, as Nairobi moves to ensure Juba retains the Port of Mombasa as its main point for transhipment cargo.
This comes at a time when South Sudan has been mulling shifting their inbound cargo to the Port of Djibouti, a move that will have a negative impact on the Port of Mombasa as Juba is the second largest client at the facility.
In September, President William Ruto reverted all the port services to Mombasa, meaning that the clearance for all goods would be done at the coast, ending the previous directive by his predecessor that had decentralised clearance to inland container depots in Naivasha and Nairobi.
“South Sudan traders can choose to clear their goods from the port of Mombasa, Nairobi or Naivasha,” said President Ruto.
The directive comes as a boost to the standard gauge railway, which is likely to benefit from the move should Juba opt to clear its goods in any of the ICDs.
The previous government had moved cargo clearance to ICD in Naivasha and Nairobi as a way of boosting revenue to repay the $5.1 billion Chinese loan used in putting up the infrastructure between Nairobi and Naivasha.
Dr Ruto gave the directive early this month during a one-day official visit to Juba, the first trip to the youngest nation since being elected as president.
South Sudan President Salva Kiir thanked Dr Ruto for allowing them to clear their goods at a point that they find convenient for them.
“On behalf of the people of South Sudan we are grateful to Kenya for allowing our traders to choose where to clear their goods without any restrictions,” said President Kiir.
Dr Ruto further said Kenya will provide land to South Sudan in Mombasa to build a dry port to ease the cost of doing business between citizens of the two nations.
In September, South Sudan said it acquired three acres of land in Djibouti for the construction of a dry port as it sought to cut overreliance at the port of Mombasa.
“We have only been using Port Sudan and Mombasa but recently, we have decided to go to Djibouti and as I am speaking to you, we have land in Djibouti,” South Sudan Minister for Petroleum Puot Kang Chol said then.
Dr Ruto also said Kenya will provide land to South Sudan in Mombasa to build a dry port to ease the cost of doing business between citizens of the two nations.
Kenya exported goods worth Sh17 billion to South Sudan in 2021 against imports of Sh92 million from this landlocked nation.
South Sudan is the second country in terms of cargo throughput volumes at the Mombasa port after Uganda, accounting for 9.9 per cent of transit goods. Uganda accounts for 83 per cent of all cargo followed by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania and Rwanda at 7.2, 3.2 and 2.4 per cent, respectively.
In 2019, Kenya allocated South Sudan a parcel of land in Naivasha for the construction of a dry port, which would see goods destined for Juba cleared at the ICD facility in order to save truckers the long journey that they would make to Mombasa.