By David Mugabe
UGANDA and Rwanda traders are still pushing to recover almost $47.6m they lost about five years ago in Kenya’s postelection violence but with little success.
In a recent meeting in Nairobi, the traders again brought up the matter that they feel is not being treated with the urgency it deserves by Kenyan authorities who initially pledged to solve the matter.
New Vision has learnt that the Kenyan government approved the compensation in the last budget but the matter was blocked by a senior official for unclear reasons.
But East African Community secretary general Richard Sezibera is still hopeful the matter will be resolved and the traders compensated.
“It is an issue we know. The Kenyan government has commitment on this matter,” said Richard Sezibera.
In a letter dated March 23 2012, the federation of East African Freight forwarders Association (FEAFFA) asked President Museveni to intervene.
“To date we continue to suffer the strenuous march to obtaining relief following suspension of attention to all efforts earlier commenced,” read the letter.
“To our knowledge the efforts flagged off by Your Excellency suffered the earlier rigors of bureaucracy in Kenya thereby tremendously slowing down to a halt the progressive steps taken,” said FEAFFA.
The traders say their efforts have proved “absolutely futile and inconsequential.” The violence which engulfed various parts of Kenya in the early part of the year 2008 led to massive commercial loses with trucks and merchandise burnt in the chaos.
Following the incident, traders and transporters from the hinterland states subsequently lodged a claim with the Kenyan government.
Initially, the traders commenced a claim against the Kenyan Attorney General in 2009.
The Attorney General recommended that the case be settled out of court. An Inter-ministerial committee was formed to detail the settlement. The Committee evaluated and analysed the evidence and legality of the claims.
A compensatory amount was then settled upon and approved by the Cabinet.
The traders say they have supplied all the documents and evidence in support of their respective claims amounting to $47.6m.
Before the current president Uhuru Kenyatta took charge, the traders met former leader Mwai Kibaki also then chair of the East African Community who directed that the compensatory payments agreed upon be paid and the matter finalised.
According to documents, on November, 24 2012, Kibaki issued a directive to the then minister of Foreign Affairs (Sam Ongeri) and minister of Trade and Industry (Moses Wetangula) in the presence of his private secretary (Mr. Nick Wanjohi) to settle the compensation claim within the shortest time possible.
“The minutes of the meeting were addressed, adopted and passed as a resolution. Unfortunately, nothing happened thereafter. No payments were made,” said the traders through their association.
Several other events including bilateral meetings and diplomatic notes between Kenya and Uganda occurred as proof of Kenya’s undertaking to settle the claims.
The traders now say the five year wait has had severe effects on their businesses with creditors “now swooping” on them.
“Unlike the traders, the creditors have long lost their patience,” said one trader.