Transport firm asks Treasury not to subsidise SGR

The standard gauge railway will start operations in the next three weeks. file photo | nmg
The standard gauge railway will start operations in the next three weeks. file photo | nmg 

Long-distance trucker Rongai Transport has urged the government not to subsidise the standard gauge railway, which starts operations in the next three weeks, to avoid hurting private shipping companies.

Rongai Transport managing director Vanessa Evans said there should be a policy of fair play when the Chinese-built railway is launched to ensure that it is run as a business and not a government enterprise.

“A third of my profits go to taxes and anything that disrupts it will mean a big loss to the Treasury as well as to my 320 employees manning 122 trucks who risk losing their jobs,” Ms Evans said.

The MD spoke in Nairobi during the company’s 70th anniversary celebrations attended by customers and other transporters. Ms Evans took over operations of the business from her late father Gordon Eccles a decade ago.

“We know government enterprises usually favour some traders while directly dealing a fatal blow to others. This must not happen when SGR starts as it should promote all businesses from industries to transporters by creating an efficient and reliable service for people and goods,” she said.

Ms Evans also said there is a need for transport ministry officials manning weighbridges to strictly enforce the law to avoid the current situation where some transporters undercut prices to win contracts and then proceed to overload their vehicles.

“The private sector has for the past 35 years provided Kenyans with a reliable cargo transport service, investing billions of shillings and we religiously pay taxes but SGR has hefty bills that the government needs to clear. We must not be sacrificed for employing people and doing lawful business.

‘‘Let SGR create more business for all of us and Kenya’s economy will grow faster,” she said.

Rongai Transport started off as a farm machinery service and maintenance workshop in 1947 before graduating to a one-lorry farm produce business growing into a 70-odd recycled trucks fleet enterprise that was transporting tea for export from Kericho to Mombasa.

“If you do a good job you expect to build loyalty,” she said.