MOMBASA, Kenya, Aug 7 – Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia on Wednesday said the government is engaging stakeholders in the transport sector over the controversial order on compulsory haulage of all imports from the port of Mombasa via the Standard Gauge Railway.
Speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the launch of the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) 30-year Master Plan in Mombasa, Macharia said the transport ministry has set aside about three weeks for stakeholders’ engagement on the directive.
On Tuesday, Macharia was forced to suspend the order on cargo haulage from Mombasa to Nairobi by use of the SGR following an uproar from Members of Parliament and transport stakeholders.
“The stakeholders wanted to be engaged. KPA and KRA (Kenya Revenue Authority) have all agreed that we must engage all the stakeholders, including the private sector on the use of SGR. Within two-three weeks, we shall have reached an amicable solution,” said Macharia.
Macharia said currently the KPA is doing between eight to ten trains daily from the port of Mombasa to the Inland Container Depot in Embakasi, Nairobi.
He said Kenyans should not be worried that the, “SGR is taking away their businesses, but rather look at the bigger picture of opportunities being created by this infrastructure.”
He said SGR is making good revenue and Kenyan government will be able to pay back part of the Sh324 billion loaned by the Chinese in May 2014 by January 2020.
In May this year, the National Treasury revised its budget to include Sh35 billion payout to China’s Exim Bank for a loan it gave Kenya for construction of the SGR.
“Kenyans should not be worried about this loan. The SGR will be able to pay it back by itself. In one day, we are doing about 10 trains, this means that we are breaking even,” said Macharia.
He said they have set down an elaborate plan that will see SGR paying back the loan on its own without placing the burden on Kenyan taxpayers.
“It will pay for itself. The first loan installment will be in January 2020,” he said.
He said Kenya is placed at an advantaged competitive position in East Africa because of the SGR infrastructure.
“We the are the first to have the SGR, we should therefore use it to our competitive advantage. We should look at the bigger picture, not just job loss in the truck business,” he said.