Ugandan and Rwandan traders who lost their goods during the 2007/2008 post-election violence in Kenya are accusing top government officials of blocking their compensation of nearly $50 million despite orders by President Uhuru Kenyatta and his predecessor Mwai Kibaki.
This accusation puts Cabinet Secretary for Finance Henry Rotich on the spot over the delay in the release of $47,557,081 in compensation.
The demand comes days after a Mombasa court ordered the Kenya Ports Authority to pay Tanzania’s Modern Holdings East Africa (Masafi) $819,500 for a consignment it lost during the post-election violence.
The award has been touted as one that could open a floodgate of similar suits against the Kenyan government.
The 16 traders, operating under the East African Freight Forwarders Association, are now threatening to protest in Kampala against Kenya’s inaction.
“Everything we have tried in the past nine years ends up as a mere reminder to presidents while the civil servants concerned do nothing. Since the agreement was reached on the basis of diplomatic notes, we were hoping that Kenya would pay,” Issa Sekito Kacita, the spokesperson for the Kampala City Traders Association told The EastAfrican.
The traders have for the past seven years been pushing for compensation for the destruction of their trucks and goods along the Northern Corridor.
The traders are basing their claims on the United Nations Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights that compels states to guarantee security of goods transiting through their countries. But the then attorney-general Amos Wako persuaded them to stay the case for the time being to allow for negotiations in the spirit of the East African Community.
Mr Wako recommended that the case be settled out of court and an inter-ministerial committee was formed to deal with the settlement. In January 2012, former president Mwai Kibaki ordered the then deputy prime minister and minister for finance Uhuru Kenyatta to make the payments in two weeks, an order that was not effected.
In the renewed push for compensation, the traders wrote to President Kenyatta, saying they are facing legal action from their creditors.
“I write on behalf of Ugandan and Rwandan traders who suffered losses as a result of the unfortunate events of violence, which engulfed various parts of Kenya in the early part of the year 2008. The Traders and Transporters did subsequently lodge a claim with Kenya government. We believe that you will probably remember about the claim that had been lodged by the traders and transporters whilst you were still serving as the deputy prime minister and minister for Finance,” says the letter written, by Mr Hategeka on behalf of the association.
Intraspeed Logistics, Kampala City Traders Association, Katraco Uganda and Mugenga Holdings were the owners of 22 heavy duty trucks destroyed in the chaos. They have been joined by Dooba Enterprises, Willex Uganda, Sebco Uganda, KPI Ltd, Bunyonyi Safaris, Seven Hills Impex, Uganda Agricultural Tools, Board City, Bidco Uganda and businessmen Suleiman Bateganya, David Musana and Arthur Turyahikayo.
Mr Kacita said Ugandan traders and transporters who use the port of Mombasa have started negotiations with the Tanzania Ports Authority for an alternative route, especially now that another election is approaching in Kenya in August 2017.