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Ruling on Compulsory Use of SGR to Wait Longer

June 23, 2021

Stakeholders in the logistics sector will wait longer to know the fate of the government’s directive on exclusive use of Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) in transportation of goods from Port of Mombasa to Nairobi and Naivasha.

The move follows the High Court’s verdict to extend orders that suspended a decision that would allow importers to choose their preferred mode of transport for their cargo whether by the standard gauge railway (SGR) or trucks.

The court on Tuesday extended the interim orders until September 30 when a five-judge bench is expected to deliver its ruling on an application by Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) seeking a further stay for 90 days.

The ruling quashing government’s directive making it compulsory for all cargo imported through the Mombasa port to Nairobi and Naivasha Inland Container Depot (ICD) by SGR was to be effected on May 7.  But KPA rushed to court to place an injunction until its application at the Court of Appeal was heard.

However, KPA was forced to move back to the High Court after learning that the hearing date at the Court of Appeal had been set aside with no alternative in place.

KPA had early in the year lost its bid seeking to have orders making the use of SGR compulsory reinstated after the High Court quashed the directive, compelling the agency to appeal the ruling.

On its submission to the court, Kenya Transporters Association- a lobby body for truck owners, argued that KPA had not proved the substantial loss it will suffer if the court's decision was implemented.

“If the decision of the court is implemented, owners of containers will have liberty to move them either through SGR or road,” said the lobby.

On May last year, Kenya announced that all importers from landlocked countries such as Uganda, Rwanda, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi using the Mombasa would be required to pick their cargo from Naivasha ICD.

Kampala faulted Nairobi’s decision to move clearance of all transit cargo from Mombasa to Naivasha saying it should be optional.

“It’s our considered opinion that the use of Naivasha ICD, which is part of our long-term regional infrastructure development, should remain optional,” said Ugandan minister of Works and Transport Katumba Wamala, in a letter to his Kenyan counterpart last year.

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