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Kenyan violence blocks Uganda cargo trains

By Vision Reporter

Added 21st January 2008 03:00 AM

Trains from Mombasa in Kenya are not coming to Uganda because a kilometre-long section of the rails was uprooted in Kibera, a Nairobi suburb, on Friday during the post-election demonstrations.
Two wagons were also looted.

Trains from Mombasa in Kenya are not coming to Uganda because a kilometre-long section of the rails was uprooted in Kibera, a Nairobi suburb, on Friday during the post-election demonstrations.
Two wagons were also looted.

By Mikaili Sseppuya

Trains from Mombasa in Kenya are not coming to Uganda because a kilometre-long section of the rails was uprooted in Kibera, a Nairobi suburb, on Friday during the post-election demonstrations.
Two wagons were also looted.

The spokesperson of the Rift Valley Railways, the company managing the route, Elizabeth Zalwango, said some of their Kampala staff had gone to their head office in Nairobi for meetings about the matter.

“It is expected that the line will be fixed by Tuesday (today). Trains can’t do the journey when the line is still down,” Zalwango said yesterday.

This was the second time the railway line had been vandalised in the same area since the disputed presidential election in December.
Riotous Kibera residents tried to loot the whole train on Friday before security officers intervened.

The Rift Valley Railways managing director, Roy Puffet, said there were 18 train containers of cargo and fuel trapped in Mombasa due to the vandalism of the line.

The disruptions in the transport system have also affected Rwanda, the eastern DR Congo and South Sudan, which use Mombasa as their main gateway.

Meanwhile, William Kidima, the chairman of Uganda’s business community in Mombasa, said the number of containers being taken out of Mombasa by truck had also declined from about 150 daily to 100, of which about 80 were destined for Uganda.

The other 20 were destined for neighbouring countries.

Kidima said cargo owners were still locked in a dispute with the Kenya Transporters Association over payment for armed escorts for the containers from Mombasa to Busia.

The Kenyan government was providing the escorts but stropped over unclear reasons.

“The Kenyan Transport Association suggested that we hire a private company, Track-It, but cargo owners resisted because it raises their costs considerably,” Kidima said.

Omar Kassim, the vice-chairman of the Uganda Chamber of Commerce, said the charges would add an extra cost of $1,000 for each 40-foot container.

“Importers are being asked to pay for private escorts who charge Ksh5,500 (about sh138,000) between Mombasa and Busia as if there is no government department responsible for that security. Why do we pay taxes?”

Kassim said the Kenya Revenue Authority had also said it would not provide physical escort of documents for transit trucks.

“All these simply add to the cost of importing goods to our landlocked countries, which government agencies should be keeping down.

“It is dangerous to privatise such important services as the private sector simply maximises profits at our expense.”

The violence in Kenya recently caused a fuel shortage in Uganda and other neighbouring countries after it became impossible for cars to move between Mombasa and Malaba.

Prices consequently shot up at the few filling stations that had fuel.

Kenyan violence blocks Uganda cargo trains

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