Clearing agents decry forced use of SGR to transport cargo

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Kenya’s cargo clearing agents have protested government’s decision to transport all upcountry-bound imports on the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) to the Inland Container Depot (ICD) in Nairobi.

The agents are threatening to boycott clearing and forwarding services at the port of Mombasa and Container Freight Stations (CFS) to force the government to recede the decision.

Speaking yesterday, some of the agents said they were shocked to learn that some of their cargo, meant to be cleared in Mombasa, had already been taken to Nairobi without their consent or that of shippers.

“Some of us had been given containers to clear by our clients but after processing all the documents, we realised that the cargo is at the ICD in Embakasi,” said Andrew Mwiti, a cargo agent.

Kenya International Freight and Warehousing Association (Kifwa) has also rejected the decision and asked Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) Managing Director Catherine Mturi to stop the “illegal” release of cargo to the SGR without consent of importers and their agents.

Kifwa national secretary Ahmed Shimbwa claimed that KPA had stopped nomination of all cargo destined to upcountry to CFS. However, it has emerged that only unnominated containers consigned to upcountry importers have to be railed to ICD Embakasi by SGR for final clearance.

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Importers who had not specified the final address of their cargo became the first casualties of the directive, which essentially locks out truckers in favor of the SGR.

The Kenya International Freight and Warehousing Association (Kifwa) wrote a strongly worded letter to the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) management, protesting the purported issuance of a directive forcing its members to use the SGR.

“We were shocked to be informed this morning that on government directive your authority has stopped nominations of CFSs from Monday this week and that all un-nominated containers consigned to importers upcountry have to be railed to ICD Embakasi by SGR for final clearance,” Kifwa secretary- general Ahmed Shimbwa, said in a letter to the KPA managing director.

Kenya Railways MD Atanas Maina said the agency was not aware of any cargo that had been transported to Nairobi without the consent of their owners, adding that Kifwa’s complaint is being investigated.

“We are investigating this complaint. The focus for SGR is to reduce the overall cost of transport and logistics,” Mr Maina said.