Mombasa road transporters have protested against monopolization of container transportation by the Standard Gauge Railway which has rendered them jobless.
Addressing the press in Mombasa on Monday, the road transport business community and clearing agents’ representative, Bernard Simiyu said a recent directive by the heads of KEBS and KRA which gave the SGR the monopoly for container transportation has sent all truck drivers home bringing to an end to their only means of earning a living.
Simiyu said the monopolization of the cargo containers by the SGR has adversely affected historical towns like Maungu, Voi, Mutito-Andei to Mlolongo that were known stop-overs for cargo truck drivers from Mombasa to Nairobi.
He observed that businesses in the coastal region have been affected by the directive since road transport is the only business for majority of Mombasa residents which has now been taken by the SGR.
“We want to be told by our leaders in the country where we are supposed to go since there is no business in Mombasa,” Simiyu paused.
“The ocean is our only God-given resource if you are taking everything from Mombasa to upcountry, what do you expect the people of Mombasa to do?” he added.
He said the monopolization of container transport has seen transporters lose an estimated Sh120 million in revenue to the County from road businesses in Mombasa, some140,000 families who directly benefited from road transport have been affected and about 6000 workers left jobless.
The road transport leader wondered why the money to repay china loan must only be sourced through SGR, noting that as much as the loan has to be paid, the government should not kill Mombasa economy as it was running before SGR.
The demonstrators fear that by next year Mombasa and towns along the Nairobi-Mombasa highway will be ghost towns since operations have minimized because the SGR will be moving containers from the port to Nairobi and Naivasha inland container depots.
“As long as we are supposed to feed our children and pay their school fees and pay rent then we are dead since our means of living has been taken from us,” said Omar Mzungu a truck driver.
“We will take to the streets every day until our plea is addressed and the punitive directive repealed. We will offer ourselves as sacrifices. We will die for our children to live,” said the demonstrators.
They threatened that insecurity incidences will increase in the towns that relied on road transport since there is no money in circulation and people must eat and pay rented houses.
A recent directive by the Commissioner General Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) and the Managing Director Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) directed all cargo from the port of Mombasa be sent to the Nairobi inland depot via the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR).
By Joseph Kamolo