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KENYA: Dock workers want Uganda dry port deal made public

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Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and President Uhuru Kenyatta during a press briefing at State House, Mombasa, on March 27, 2019. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 


Dock workers want the Kenyan government to impose strict conditions before offering land to Uganda for the construction of a dry port in Naivasha.

Last week, President Uhuru Kenyatta offered the landlocked country land to build a dry port for its cargo as part of the joint Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) project.

However, the details and terms of the agreement reached between President Kenyatta and Ugandan leader Yoweri Museveni remain unclear.

The giant Dock Workers Union (DWU) secretary-general Simon Sang said although the over 7,000 port workers support the move, they want the details made public, saying it must be a win-win situation for the two countries.

“What is more important is under what conditions should the land be given out. There is nothing wrong with giving incentives to investors but we must have conditions that take care of our interests. One of the conditions is employment which should be shared on an agreed ratio,” Mr Sang’ said.

During a dinner on Wednesday evening in honour of President Museveni who was on a two-day State visit to Kenya, Mr Kenyatta said the country will offer Uganda land to build a dry port for its cargo in Naivasha.

However, in a press briefing at DWU headquarters in Mombasa, Mr Sang said: “What are the concessional rates the government is proposing? Taking into consideration the fact that we invest a lot in the port, meaning the rates for whatever cargo that comes into the port should be able to take care of the expansion of our facilities.”

Uganda is the biggest market for Kenyan goods and the biggest client to the Mombasa port, especially for transit cargo, ahead of Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and Rwanda.

According to Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) 2017 annual performance report, the port saw a marginal 1.1 per cent increase in transit goods traffic to 7.75 million tonnes.

Uganda remained as the largest of the hinterland market, accounting for 81.9 per cent of the traffic (6.34 million tonnes).

The dry port will see Uganda play a more crucial role for the hinterland countries, including Rwanda and DRC.

The deal is a sign of Kenya’s commitment to the SGR railways line between Kisumu and Malaba, which will also see Uganda secure funding for its Kampala-Malaba line.

Uganda already has a property — Uganda Property Holdings Ltd — strategically placed near the Mombasa port.

Last year, Uganda negotiated with Kenya on the lease of its property as the country was implementing a new land law that prohibits foreigners from owning property near territorial borders.

—— AUTO – GENERATED; Published (Halifax Canada Time AST) on: April 01, 2019 at 11:15AM

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