Traders in Kenya will now have authority to choose their mode of transporting goods from the port of Mombasa to other parts of the country.
This follows a notice issued by the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) Managing Director John Mwangemi who vacated the 2018 ban on nomination of cargo in Mombasa and compulsory ferrying of cargo via Standard Gauge Railway (SGR).
“This is therefore to notify all Shipping Lines that importers’ documentation of place of clearance and mode of transport for their goods shall be at their choice,” reads the notice in part.
All shipping Lines have been advised to facilitate importers’ nomination of place of clearance including port clearance, Kenya Revenue Authority’s Licensed Container Freight Stations (CFSs) and KPA’s Inland Container depots.
According to Mwangemi, the notice supersedes the notice of June 16, 2018 on similar subject.
The directive is also likely to hurt the businesses that had set up in Naivasha after the directive.
Naivasha ICD was at the heart of Kenya’s ambition to become the transport corridor of choice for neighbouring countries like Tanzania and Uganda.
Mwangemi’s order honours President William Ruto’s directive on September 13 during his inaugural speech that clearing of all goods and other attendant operational issues to revert to the port of Mombasa.
The 2018 order had required all importers of sugar, steel, rice, second-hand clothes, reefer cargo, and cooking oil to transfer their cargo to the Nairobi Inland Container Depot (ICD) via the new railway line.
It was a primary measure to ensure SGR has minimum guaranteed business to repay the Ksh450 billion ($3.7 billion) debt taken to build it.
Former President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2019 launched the extended SGR freight services from Mombasa to the Naivasha ICD, promising faster transportation of cargo to western Kenya and on to neighbouring countries.