A section of Busia leaders have faulted the national government’s plan to establish a dry port in Kisumu saying this would kill the economic potential of Malaba.
They said the plan will sabotage the economy of Malaba by rendering it only a transit border town for the Standard Gauge Railway.
The leaders including Busia Women Representative Florence Mutua, Teso North legislator Oku Kaunya and Engineer Vincent Sidai (former director National Water Conservation and Pipeline Corporation) questioned the plans during a funds drive to purchase a bus for Katakwa Diocese Mothers’ Union at St Thomas Amagoro Anglican Church on Sunday.
The trio said all key inland port services like clearing and forwarding will be handled in Kisumu through the SGR at the expense of Malaba people leading to job cuts and relegating the busy town to a ghost border town.
Sidai who spoke first told the funds drive that the Kisumu dry port, once established, will reduce business significantly in Malaba.
“This is very unfair. Malaba is big and it is a border town. We don’t want to see trains just pass with goods.
We have very many unemployed youths in the county. If all work will remain in Kisumu what shall we do here? We want the National Government to tell us what facilities will be in Malaba when the SGR reaches here,” he said.
Mutua and Kaunya who are Members of Parliament promised to petition the state to reconsider the move.
Kaunya said he will push for establishment of an inland dry port in Malaba that will safeguard the jobs of the youths who previously engaged in clearing and forwarding activities in Busia and Malaba towns.
“You are aware of the ‘One Stop Border Posts.’ The laws put by EAC member states saw the clearance of goods relocated to Uganda. This led to Kenyan clearing agents losing jobs and a drastic drop in business in Malaba and Busia towns,” he observed.
“With such an experience, we don’t want a repeat. Plans for Export Processing Zone and trailer parks in Malaba and Busia were mooted three years ago, and we need these to be fast tracked for people living at the border to benefit from the SGR and trailers,” Kaunya said.
Similar concerns were raised by Mombasa County leaders led by Governor Ali Hassan Joho last year.
According to Joho, the SGR freight trains, the Naivasha dry port and Embakasi inland container depot would diminish the multi-billion shilling container freight station business in Mombasa as the projects will either lead to relocation of logistics and transport business to Nairobi or Naivasha or a complete shutdown, leading to massive job losses at the port city.
By Melechezedeck Ejakait