Government postpones SGR cargo clearance order

File image of a section of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR).
File image of a section of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR).

The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) and Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) have postponed the implementation of a new government order that all cargo be ferried from Mombasa to Nairobi through the Standard Gauge Railway.

The directive, which was to take effect beginning Wednesday, August 7, was put on hold on Tuesday evening to allow for stakeholder consultation.

The order issued of Friday last week states: “All imported cargo for delivery to Nairobi and the hinterland shall be conveyed by Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) and cleared at the Inland Container Depot – Nairobi.”

According to the government, the move is part of measures to boost SGR revenues as well as enhance efficiency at the port of Mombasa and the Inland Container Depot in Nairobi.

The directive also stated that all imported cargo intended for Mombasa and its environs shall be cleared at the Port of Mombasa.

It further highted that all imported cargo that is not declared or removed from the Port of Mombasa or the Inland Container Depot in Nairobi within 21 days from the date of discharge of the vessel will be transferred to a designated Customs controlled area awaiting disposal.

Meanwhile, Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia has been summoned to appear before the Parliamentary Committee on Transport on Thursday to shed more light on the order, which has been strongly opposed by leaders from the Coastal region and civil society groups.

It is seen as a blow to hundreds of employees working in different Container Freight Stations (CFS) and clearing and forwarding agents in Mombasa.

Stakeholders in the transport sector have also protested the directive noting that it will lead to massive loss of jobs.

“My members will lose big in the SGR project. Drivers, loaders and turn boys have lost jobs as most containers are collected in Embakasi, Nairobi. Majority of transporters will now be forced to move out of Mombasa as business here is no longer viable,” said Kenya Transport Association chief operations officer Mercy Ireri.

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Story By Benjamin Muriuki
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