Transport hit as trucks keep off the road over poll uncertainty

The Mlolongo Weighbridge in Machakos County Friday. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NMG
The Mlolongo Weighbridge in Machakos County Friday. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NMG 

Uncertainty around the presidential results of the elections held on Tuesday has paralysed transport of goods with the number of trucks plying Mombasa-Nairobi road plunging to 200 daily from 20,000.

A survey along Mombasa road as well as Thika and Nakuru Highways showed long-distance trucks remained parked at company yards in Nairobi’s Industrial Area while others were in estates at Mlolongo.

A visit to Mlolongo Weighbridge station showed only a few trucks were on the road with many driving towards Mombasa without any goods.

Drivers interviewed said the past experiences, where trucks caught up in the post-election chaos were looted and others used to block roads before being set ablaze, had forced many operators to stay away.

On a good day, the weighbridge on the Mombasa-Nairobi road serves about 20,000 trucks in a day compared to an average 200 lorries after the elections.

In an earlier interview, Rongai Workshop and Transport Limited managing Director Vanessa Evans called on political leaders to act with restraint when disputing the electoral results saying business must be allowed to thrive.

Ms Evans, who oversees her family business’ 105 trucks, said Kenyans must not allow politics to disrupt business and livelihoods.

“We plead with our politicians to ensure peace prevails at all times for us to conduct our business, which is a major driver for development. All that happened in the past is regrettable and should be forgotten. It should never happen again. This time we must remain alert to ensure peace prevails at all times,” she said.

In a separate report shipping company, Maersk East Africa urged restraint among politicians and other leaders in the rival camps in order to secure Kenya’s top spot as a transhipment route.

In the 2017 First Quarter East Africa Trade Report, the shipping conglomerate said Kenya’s rising star as a preferred containerised cargo transit point could be dimmed if dispute over the elections disrupts operations along the Kenya-Uganda and Kenya-Tanzania transhipment corridors.

Maersk’s regional managing director Steve Felder said development along the Northern Corridor highly depends on the Kenyan elections and the extent to which they are peaceful.