The State has backed down from its earlier directive on the use of standard gauge railway (SGR) for all cargo destined to Nairobi and beyond following pressure from regional economies.
Transport Cabinet Secretary (CS) James Macharia told Parliament that regional governments demanded additional developments at the Naivasha inland container depot (ICD) before the directive to pick cargo from the facility can be implemented.
The decision is a huge reprieve to freighters who risked losing hundreds of jobs following the ban on use of trucks to transport cargo from Mombasa.
In May, Mr Macharia announced that all cargo destined for Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan will be transported through the SGR for clearance at the ICD starting June 1.
“Stakeholders have requested additional infrastructure investment within the Naivasha ICD. This includes an expanded marshalling yard,” David Pkosing, who chairs the Transport committee said in a statement to the House.
Mr Pkosing was responding to a statement sought by Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir over a directive that truck drivers pick up transit cargo from Naivasha ICD depot.
He said Mr Macharia confirmed that the ministry is undertaking additional investments at the Naivasha ICD including an expanded marshalling yard and works are expected to be completed by July 15 The committee said the May order by Mr Macharia was informed by the need to contain the spread of coronavirus pandemic.
“The CS told us that the directive was as a result of consultations between the East African heads of States and follow up meetings by ministers responsible for transport in the region,” he said.
Mr Pkosing added that the committee and Mr Macharia reached an agreement that the directive be put on hold pending consultations with local and regional stakeholders.
“The directive that transporters pick cargo destined for transit from Naivasha ICD is no longer compulsory but is now optional.
“As such, we find this decision by the Ministry of Transport satisfactory for the time being pending our inquiry set to be concluded in a month,” Mr Pkosing said in response to a statement sought by Mr Nassir.
Mr Nassir, also Mvita MP, had demanded an inquiry into the directive issued by Mr Macharia.
He had also sought to know why importers were being compelled to transport cargo destined to Nairobi and the county’s hinterland via the SGR when an earlier order issued jointly by Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) and Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) had been suspended by the Ministry.
Mr Pkosing said the order to transport all cargo to Nairobi ICD via SGR was suspended and continues to remain in force to date.
Mr Nassir confirmed the committee and the Ministry had reached a deal that the two orders be lifted and that thorough stakeholder consultations be undertaken to resolve existing grievances