What you need to know:
- Kenya Ports Authority asked Ugandan MPs to support establishment of a dry port so that movement of cargo from Mombasa to Uganda can be seamless
Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) has said they are planning to engage the government of Uganda in regard to establishment of a dry port inside Uganda.
Speaking in a phone interview yesterday, the KPA managing director Capt William K Ruto, said he had discussed the possibility of Kenya and Uganda collaborating to establish an inland port in Uganda to cut the cost of transporting goods from Mombasa to Kampala.
“We believe if this plan is well executed, it will lessen the distance from Mombasa to Uganda,” he said, noting that an inland port within Uganda will equally ease doing business, which remains a sticky issue for many Ugandans.
The dry port, which will be a joint venture between Kenya and Uganda, Capt Ruto, said is still and could be executed in at least the next five years.
Earlier, Mr Ruto had been quoted as saying that KPA wants to make doing business easy for Ugandan importers, thus urging a delegation of Ugandan MPs, who were in Mombasa for Parliamentary business on Tuesday, to support the idea “so that we can make movement of cargo from Mombasa to Uganda very seamless”.
Uganda has previously tried to establish a dry port in Naivasha, Kenya but the move was blocked over claims that the land that had been earmarked for the project had encumbrances.
In March 2019, the then Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, while hosting President Museveni in Mombasa had offered land to Uganda to construct a dry port in Naivasha to reduce the cost of transportation of cargo from Mombasa to Uganda. Uganda, which transits at least 35 million tonnes of cargo annually through the Port of Mombasa, accounts for 25 percent of cargo channelled through the port.
The dry port at Naivasha had been part of a fast tracking project of the standard gauge railway, which Capt Ruto said had been extended from Mombasa to Naivasha, with plans of extending it to Malaba, already under way.
Monitor could not readily get a comment from government in regard to the proposal.
However, Mr Simon Kaheru, the East Africa Business Council Uganda Chapter chairman, said the discussion to establish a dry port has been on the table for a number of years, noting that during a high level private sector summit in Mombasa some years ago, the matter had been discussed with both presidents Kenyatta and Museveni agreeing that it was a fait accompli on both sides of the border.
“We spoke then about the dry port in Naivasha and raised the one that had earlier been mooted by a private consortium in Uganda. I believe it is back on the table now because of the discussion around oil, as well as the need to make imports through Mombasa easier for Ugandans to keep Mombasa relevant and busy,” he said.
The dry port will be key in easing doing business for Uganda, but Mr Kaheru added that this will only work if East African member states, particularly Kenya, end trade barriers implemented by ad hoc pronouncements.
Uganda continues to explore alternative routes for its imports with focus on Tanzania, which could be putting pressure on Kenya to provide better services after years of agitation.
Mr Kanakulya JJemba, the Kampala City Traders Association deputy spokesperson and secretary security and environment, said for a long time importers, under different umbrella organizations, had been advocating for easing doing business in the region, noting that all other countries under the East Africa Community must find ways through which they can make trade easier and better.
“This is trade facilitation at its best. This is what we have been advocating for. Easing business in the region shouldn’t be a reserve of only Kenya, Uganda should do the same as well to other regional partner states,” he said.