No turning back on SGR cargo order, says Yattani
Acting National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yattani has dismissed clamour against use of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) to transport cargo destined for Nairobi and beyond.
The CS said there will be no reverse gear on government plans to move the cargo by SGR, a move aimed at making the train service remain competitive in the region and beyond.
Speaking during his visit to the Kenya Ports Authorities and Kenya Revenue Authorities agencies at the Port of Mombasa, Yattani said use of SGR for cargo evacuation is the only way to ensure the country remains competitive in the transport sector.
“In the past there have been some issues in terms of utilisation of SGR in movement of cargo but we say there is no choice. For us to remain competitive in the region and beyond, we must modernise our rail transport to make sure our cargo handling is up to date and we decongest the port,” he said, adding that the move will bolster efficiency in the sector.
He dismissed as unfounded, claims that 100 per cent utilisation of SGR for cargo evacuation will lock people in road transport sector out of business, saying better opportunities will open up with more port development projects coming up.
“It does not necessarily mean that people in the transport sector will be locked out of business. The opportunities are there. Lamu Port is coming up, and that will be the perfect entry point for road transport to flourish alongside SGR,” he said.
Kenya Transporters Association (KTA) have argued that direct cost implications that will come with the implementation of the directive will be detrimental to the cost of doing business, which will ultimately trickle down to the final consumer.
The transporters expressed fears that they will be the first casualties to suffer the direct impact given that mandatory usage of one train to evacuate cargo from the Port of Mombasa to Inland Container Depot-Nairobi (ICD-N) will automatically translate to 107 trucks off the road in a day.
“One train transports about 107 containers, this means 107 trucks will automatically be off the road and at the same time in just one day, 107 drivers will be out of jobs. This will also mean that the fuel levy will not be collected and this is a loss of revenue for the government,” KTA chief operations officer Mercy Ireri said.