Government Spokesman Col. (Rtd) Cyrus Oguna has condemned the weekly protests by truckers against the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) in Mombasa.
Oguna said the series of protests and agitation against the SGR were the work of businessmen who have hitherto benefited from the chaos and congestion at the port of Mombasa.
He said the train operations have hastened the offloading of cargo from ships for onward transportation to Nairobi and other inland destinations besides decongesting the Mombasa port.
“It is also imperative to note that despite the hue and cry over the SGR, the trains have been transporting only 35 per cent of the total cargo from the Mombasa port,” he said.
He said the protests were being championed by operators of container freight stations who have been forced to shut down businesses in Mombasa and move their operations to Nairobi.
The customs-bonded storage facilities started operating in 2007 to ease congestion at Mombasa port which saw ships charged for delayed deliveries.
“The container freight stations were closed by their owners because the fast trains were hauling cargo to Nairobi as soon as they were removed from the ships,” he said.
Addressing the press in Mombasa on Thursday evening at Uhuru na Kazi building, Oguna wondered why the protests were persisting long after the government rescinded the directive that all cargo from the port would be transported by the SGR.
“The directive has been reversed and cargo owners have the freedom to decide whether to take their cargo to Nairobi by road or rail,” he said flanked by Coast Regional Commissioner (RC) John Elungata.
He said the trucks had been allowed in the port and transporting cargo by road to Nairobi as the order to give SGR monopoly of transportation of cargo was suspended.
The government spokesman said the weekly protests by the transporters now going into the third month threatens to disrupt business and commerce at the coastal city.
On his part, Elungata maintained that the directive was not in place and importers were allowed to use their preferred mode of transport by rail or road.
He therefore said police would no longer entertain the unwarranted protests by the truckers in the central business district as it was negatively impacting on the economy.
By Hussein Abdullahi