Save Mombasa: The Standard Gauge Railway Monopoly

The construction of the new Standard Gage Railway (SGR) from Mombasa to Nairobi created a lot of hope for the residents of the Coast region and in Kenya as a whole. Many thought it would provide employment opportunities, especially in the Coastal towns.

But events took a different turn in August 2019, when the Cabinet Secretary for Transport ordered the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) to transport all cargo containers arriving at the Port of Mombasa to Nairobi - via the SGR.

The SGR transportation deal by the Kenya government without any public participation caused massive job loss to the port employees, truck drivers, freight companies, and business people directly and indirectly affected. Mechanics do not have their usual work to do, local vendors who provide simple services of boda boda transport and food at the Freight Companies have closed up shop.

This business order to move all cargo arriving at the port exclusively by rail, sparked a lot of resistance from the tens of thousands of affected people mostly long distance drivers, unit drivers and the business community in Mombasa. With organization by IFA and the Okoa Mombasa Coalition, they decided to peacefully demonstrate every Monday in Mombasa Town until all port operations were returned to Mombasa. The protesters rebuked government for dishing out Mombasa’s economy to more wealthy Counties – Nairobi and Naivasha, through this SGR directive.

On 4th December 2019, the Senate Committee on Transport summoned the Transport Cabinet Secretary to explain the demonstrations by truck drivers that were taking place in Mombasa. This was the fourth attempt of getting the CS to appear before the committee after three ignored summons. A planned revisit to the Senate Committee by the truck drivers was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak, but the drivers have vowed to pick up with the weekly demonstrations until the government satisfactorily addresses their plight and revokes the order.

In May 2020, KPA announced that the Naivasha Inland Container Depot in the Rift Valley, had commenced full scale operations, and all cargo would be delivered straight to this facility from the Port of Mombasa.

Story By IFA Coast Team

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