Weekly protests back as traders fight evacuation policy

Tuesday, December 24th, 2019 00:00 |

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The weekly anti-Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) demonstrations resumed yesterday with transport and logistic traders saying they will not celebrate Christmas and New Year in protest of the forced evacuation of all upcountry bound cargo to Nairobi through the rail.

The traders said most of their businesses remain shut owing to the mandatory directive by the government to clear cargo at the Inland Container Terminal in Nairobi.

Yesterday, the traders said they will not end the “Black Monday” demonstrations despite earlier ban by the government.

“They have refused to stop the mandatory evacuation of all upcountry cargo through SGR to the Internal Container Depot (ICD) Nairobi, we are saying we will not stop the demonstrations.

There will be no Christmas or New year celebrations,” said Fast Action Business Community Chairman Salim Karama.

Kenya Transporters Association (KTA) chief executive officer Dennis Ombok said trucks were still being starved off cargo despite government announcing suspension of a directive issued by Kenya Ports Authority and Kenya revenue Authority requiring importers to clear cargo at ICDN. 

Ombok said the group is not opposed to the SGR but the monopoly which is being used to strangulate road transporters.

“There is totally nothing on the ground, we were shortchanged by Cabinet Secretary James Macharia, all cargo is still being hauled by SGR despite public outcry,” said Ombok.

Those worse hit by the policy include transporters, long-distance truck drivers, Container Freight Stations (CFSs), Clearing and Forwarding firms and other businesses such as bars, hotels, boutiques, which all depended on the logistic sector for their survival.

According to Asha Ngina, a landlord at King’orani, claims that her rental houses have been left vacant after tenants who worked with Clearing and Forwarding companies left for Nairobi. “Most of the houses are empty; most 

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