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Economy

Macharia to face MPs as Naivasha cargo order kicks in

James Macharia
Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia is expected to face MPs next this week over his latest directive requiring all cargo heading to neighbouring countries to be cleared from Naivasha internal container depot (ICD) starting Tuesday.

Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir has written to the Speaker of the National Assembly Justin Muturi have Mr Macharia summoned to also explain his order that transit cargo to be ferried to Naivasha via the standard gauge railway.

Mr Nassir, also the Public Investment Committee chairman, termed the Cabinet Secretary's decision 'unconstitutional'.

“This is a country that has a freedom of choice. Everyone has a choice to use the means of choice. We cannot have a monopoly on the type of transport to be used,” Mr Nassir said.

“It is against the Constitution to stop someone from moving. We are trying to look at the legal part of the CS’s decision. Why are we forcefully pushing businesses out of competition? This is economic sabotage and the government cannot punish its people."

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Mr Macharia said last week that he issued the order in line with an earlier directive by East African Community (EAC) heads of state on Covid-19 containment measures.

The EAC leaders had in April directed that all transit cargo be collected by trucks in Naivasha to cut trucking distance to the border so as to reduce exposure to Covid-19.

Mr Nassir has, however, accused Mr Macharia of reneging on his earlier promise that there would be no restrictions on the mode of transport for cargo.

Mr Macharia's directive has also been opposed by other EAC states, including South Sudan, Uganda and Rwanda, which rely on Kenya to transport cargo.

Uganda, through a May 26 letter signed by Transport minister Edward Katumba, said that using Naivasha ICD for transit cargo would not reduce human traffic movement as truck drivers will still be required to pick the containers from the depot to their destination.

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