Business within Changamwe area in Mombasa was, on Monday, paralysed for the better part of the day as transporters and human rights groups staged a demonstration to pressurise the government to rescind its plan of transporting all bulk cargo through SGR.
As reported by Kenya News Agency, the agitated demonstrators drawn from human rights organizations, long-distance truck drivers, Tuk Tuk operators and small business traders carrying placards and signboards begun their protests at the Changamwe roundabout towards Magongo, which saw traffic flow derailed for several hours.
Kenya Transporters Association Chief executive Dennis Ombok dismissed the government’s claim that transporting cargo by railway was cheaper than using trucks.
“We are asking for a fair competition, we want this decision rescinded because its effect is now so dire in the region. They are claiming that it is cheap to transport cargo by rail but is not, it is just a plan to finish our economy here at the Coast,” stated Ombok.
Haki Africa Human rights Organization said the plan has triggered an increase of social vices like insecurity and drug and substance use among the youth, who have been rendered jobless.
Kenya long-distance truck drivers’ union Mombasa secretary Harriet Muganda called on the government to make it optional for bulk cargo to be transported through SGR before it’s destined to the Inland Container Depot in Nairobi.
Their protest comes days after a study by the University of Nairobi (UoN) also revealed that more than 60 per cent of employees working at the Container Freight Stations (CFSs) were jobless.
The report indicates that the government lost more than Ksh126 billion in revenue in one year from Mombasa County since the introduction of freight trains.
SGR, a flagship project of vision 2030 is billed as the biggest transport infrastructure project in the country’s history, expected to haul close to nine million tonnes of cargo and make Ksh5.08 billion profit per year, averaging Ksh424 million earnings monthly.
The negative impact is being felt by lodges and restaurants that depend on the trucks not only at the Coast but also in other parts of the country where truck drivers and conductors eat and sleep.
The cost of transporting cargo by road ranges between Ksh85, 000 and Ksh95, 000 for a 40-foot container compared with the new SGR charges of Ksh100, 000.