Nairobi, Kenya | URN | The Kenyan government has said that all transit cargo will have to move by the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) from Mombasa to Naivasha where truckers will pick it for delivery to Uganda, Rwanda, and South Sudan. This takes effect on June 1, 2020.
This effectively cuts off 600 kilometres that truck drivers would have to drive if they were to pick the goods directly from Mombasa port.
Kenya said in a statement on Friday 22nd that some of the cargo will move on the old metre-gauge railway directly to Tororo in eastern Uganda or Kampala, while fuel will be transported by pipeline to Kisumu, Kenya and thereafter by water on Lake Victoria to Portbell in Luzira, Kampala or Jinja.
This starts on June 1, according to a letter by the Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia who affirmed that the move was arrived at during a meeting with his counterparts from the three countries as a key measure to curb cross border transmissions of COVID-19.
“All transit cargo/containers transported on SGR will be armed only at the Inland Container Depot (ICD) AT Naivasha to be tracked through the Regional Electronic Cargo Tracking System,” a part of the statement read.
Macharia further pointed out that all cargo railed to the Inland Container Depot at Naivasha will be collected by trucks to the partner states via Busia or Malaba.
He however, pointed out that fuel products will be transported by pipeline to Kisumu and thereafter through Lake Victoria to Port Bell or Jinja in Uganda.
Revenue authorities from Uganda, South Sudan, Rwanda, and Kenya will have to be accommodated at Naivasha inland deport to clear goods on time. This, the statement added, will reduce contact of drivers with local people, the main cause for the spread of coronavirus disease.
Truck drivers have been seen as a weak link to spreading coronavirus and partner countries are trying to devise means to reduce their contact with the community. The issue of truckers is threatening to cause a diplomatic spat between EAC community members.
Exports will also, be required to move by rail – whether the containers are full or empty. Kenya has directed that drivers will drive up to Naivasha inland port and then the exports will be moved by rail to Mombasa.
While it is meant to control contact with truck drivers, it could also mean a chance for the region to try the possibility of transferring all cargo to rail. Kenya tried but truck owners had protested the move saying it was taking them out of business.
For the fuel and other cargo owners, rail transportation cuts on the cost and risk involved with road transport. Uganda was already transporting some fuel products by water. Last year, the country said it had completed a 14-tank storage facility in Entebbe to store 70 million litres of fuel.
Uganda President Yoweri Museveni has promised to revive Uganda’s old railway and construction of a new one with funding expected from China and the European Union (EU).
Full notice on transit cargo
The Heads of State, Their Excellencies President Paul Kagame of the Republic of Rwanda; President Uhuru Kenyatta of the Republic of Kenya; President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni of the Republic of Uganda and President Salvar Maryardit Kiir of the Republic of South Sudan during their Consultative Meeting of the East African Community held by Video Conference on 12th May 2020 considered the current status of the outbreak of the Covid-19 Pandemic in the region and directed the Ministers responsible for Health, Transport, and EAC Affairs to adopt a Digital Surveillance and Tracking System for drivers and also as the Focal Persons to immediately work on a Regional mechanism for monitoring of truck drivers to reduce the impact of the Pandemic.
Following the directive by the Heads of State, the Partner States Ministers in charge of Transport, in recognition of the need to contain the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic within the Region, have considered appropriate cross border transportation modalities to reduce human traffic movement without impacting negatively on transportation of cargo across the borders and consequently direct as follows:
The Nairobi – Naivasha SGR Project is part of the proposed Mombasa – Nairobi – Malaba /Kampala Standard Gauge Railway Project and therefore, the Mombasa – Naivasha SGR, which has overall length of 600 kilometre up to the Inland Container Depot at Naivasha will reduce the road distance to three Partner States of Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan by 600 kilometres, and will subsequently reduce interactions along the corridor and thus facilitate the containment of the Covid-19;
Since Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) as the lead agency on port matters has provided requisite office accommodation to the Kenya Revenue Authority, Uganda Revenue Authority, Rwanda Revenue Authority and the South Sudan Revenue Authority, deployment of the staff to the Inland Container Depot (ICD) at Naivasha is expected to be finalised to ensure smooth clearance of the cargo;
All transit cargo destined for Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan will be transported either on standard gauge railway (SGR) for clearance at the Inland Container Depot (ICD) at Naivasha or Metre Gauge Railway to Tororo/Kampala. All transit cargo railed to the Inland Container Depot (ICD) at Naivasha will be collected by trucks to the Partner States via Busia or Malaba. Further, fuel products will be transported by pipeline to Kisumu and thereafter by lake Victoria to Port Bell or Jinja;
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All the transit cargo/containers transported on SGR will be armed only at the Inland Container Depot (ICD) at Naivasha to be tracked through the Regional Electronic Cargo Tracking System; and
All exports (both full and empty exports) not railed on metre gauge railway will be delivered to the Inland Container Depot (ICD) at Naivasha for railage to the Port of Mombasa.
The directives will become effective after ten (10) days from the date of this notice and, for the avoidance of doubt, from 1st June 2020.
JAMES MACHARIA, EGH.
MINISTER IN CHARGE OF TRANSPORT
REPUBLIC OF KENYA