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Chaos as Kenyan MPs Disagree on SGR Order after Summoning CS Macharia

The National Assembly's Transport committee had summoned Cabinet Secretary James Macharia to shed light on the directive

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Kenyan, MPs, SGR Order
Containers are pictured at the port of Mombasa in this picture taken on August 8 2019.

BY GEOFFREY ISAYA

Kenyan Lawmakers on Friday engaged in shouting matches during a meeting called to discuss the government’s directive for all imported cargo to be transported from the port of Mombasa by the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR).

The National Assembly’s Transport committee had summoned Cabinet Secretary James Macharia to shed light on the directive that concerns cargo destined for Nairobi and other hinterlands.

The notice jointly by Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) and Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) was suspended Tuesday evening, hours before its planned implementation on Wednesday.

‘HIDDEN AGENDA’

Kenyan, MPs, SGR Order
Kenyan parliament in session.

The meeting descended into chaos as members of the committee accused MPs from the Coast of behaving as if they are the “only authority on matters concerning the port”.

CS Macharia looked on in amusement as the legislators tore into each other, with Mathira’s Rigathu Gachagua accusing MPs led by Mvita’s Abdulswamad Nassir of opposing the directive for the benefit of operators of Container Freight Stations (CFSs).

“The real issues behind the opposition are the interests of CFSs but we must be clear that private people running the stations have no business opposing a government directive.”His position was supported by committee chairman David Pkosing as well as MPs Samuel Arama (Nakuru West) and Rindikiri Mugambi (Buuri), who dismissed as self-serving, the push by coast MPs to oppose the directive.

Trouble started when Mr Nassir rejected an explanation given by the CS on the thinking behind the directive.

The CS had told the committee that entrenched corruption and other operational malpractices involving collusion between port employees and agents of the CFSs informed the directive.

Mr Macharia further noted that local leaders were consulted before the order was communicated.

“The port is part of an integrated system that links up to the SGR and touches on the dry port in Nairobi, the port in Kisumu, Bukoba, all the way to the DR Congo. If we don’t get it right, it will not be effective,” he said.

Kenyan, MPs, SGR Order
-Kenyan Lawmakers on Friday engaged in shouting matches during a meeting called to discuss the government’s directive for all imported cargo to be transported from the port of Mombasa. Pixabay

He also pointed out that the directive touched on containerised cargo and would not affect bulk or transit cargo.

The CS further told the committee that the directive was the result of a mutual agreement on how to improve efficiency at the port in line with international requirements.

MONOPOLY CLAIM

However, Mr Nassir, Mr Mwashetani and Mombasa Senator Mohamed Faki denied knowledge of any consultations and challenged the CS to reveal their nature and the parties that were involved.

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Mr Faki insisted that the directive was not in line with the law as the Competition Authority of Kenya was not involved, and alleged that it was aimed at turning the SGR into a monopoly.

The CS said, “We have details of the consultative meeting held last Friday. I have no minutes of the meeting but I can confirm it was held.”

Mr Macharia denied Mr Nassir’s claim that the SGR is expensive and that importers are being forced to use it to refinance the loan Kenya took to construct it.

Giving a comparative analysis, the CS said it takes Sh2,275 for the SGR to transport one metric tonne from Mombasa to Nairobi, whereas it costs road transporters Sh2,700 to move the same cargo.

It takes the SGR $670 dollars to transport 20 feet of containerised cargo while a similar container costs $850 to be transported by road, he said, adding a 40-foot container costs $950 by SGR and $1,100 by road.

Next Story

Prime Minister Narendra Modi Appeals MPs To Utilize Their Winter Season Well

The session would have 20 sittings spread over 29 days

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According to LocalCircles, each person who voted in the survey is registered with the portal with their detailed information and in many cases they shared their residential address.
Narendra Modi.

Prime Minister Naredndra Modi on Monday appealed to all MPs at an all-party meeting to utilize the winter session of Parliament well as it will be the last full-fledged session before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Addressing an all-party meet at Parliament House a day before the session commences, Modi said the government was ready to discuss all issues as per rules and procedures and was open to the opposition’s inputs for better working of Parliament.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Narendra Singh Tomar briefed the media on what transpired in the meeting.

“The Prime Minister said that we all need to cooperate with each other on the issues of public interest. He underlined that in a democracy both the government and the opposition share their inputs for efficient governance,” Tomar said, quoting the Prime Minister.

“The Prime Minister also said that the government was ready to discuss all issues as per rules and procedures. If anybody wants to bring something to the government’s notice inside the House or even outside, we are open to it,” he added.

Tomar said that all the political parties present at the meeting have assured full cooperation in the smooth functioning of Parliament.

Narendra Modi
Narendra Modi (Wikimedia Commons)

Asked if the government was ready for a JPC probe in the Rafale fighter jets deal, he said the opposition had several issues including Rafale, farmers’ plight and economy “but they would have to prioritise things as the session was only four weeks long.

“These things can be settled in the Business Advisory Meetings,” he added.

The Minister said a legislation on Ram Mandir was “not the topic of today’s discussion”.

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“When something to this effect comes up, we will let you know,” he said.

He said the government had 46 items on the agenda including three ordinances, Supplementary Budget and government legislations.

The session would have 20 sittings spread over 29 days. (IANS)