General polls: Transport operators suspend business via Kenyan route
August 8, 2022 | Pamela Achom
Several transport operators plying the Uganda to Kenya route, have suspended their operations as Kenyans vote for their leaders tomorrow.
Tomorrow 9th August, Kenyans go to polls.
Although the country didn’t close its borders, cargo and passenger transporters from Uganda are to hold off crossing into Kenya until the electoral process is concluded.
Charles Mwebembezi, the chairperson of the Uganda Freight Forwarders Association, says they are in fear because they don’t know what might happen before, during and after the elections.
According to Mwebembezi, the Kenyan government has assured them of security while in transit from the port to the point of exit, but he says they cannot take chances, based on the history of Kenyan polls, adding that though the port and borders are still open, they are not moving any cargo for at least three days, just to monitor the situations.
Kenneth Ayebare, the chairperson of the Uganda Cargo Consolidators Association, says under such unpredictable conditions, some cargo had started to go through the central corridor. However, he says it is quite expensive and that the easier solution was to hold their operations than risk, adding that the last trucks they expect are those reaching the Ugandan border points today and that for any truck to move, it must have cargo insurance.
Ayebare said: “We have advised all our drivers to halt operations as we monitor the situation, and the last trucks we are expecting are those that reach Busia and Malaba today, while those in transit must have cargo insurance. Though the Kenya Ports Authority has promised to give us a waiver on demurrage for the time the country will be in elections, it’s just a promise which is not in writing.”
The situation is not different even for passenger transport service providers, and several key players in this sector have also halted operations until further notice.
Yazid Kalangwa, a driver with Buscar Transport Company, says the fear of Kenya’s election aftermath has been on for the last one week, and the number of passengers from Uganda to Kenya reduced to less than half, whereas those coming in multiplied. However, many Kenyans living in Uganda also travelled in large numbers back home to take part in the elections.
He adds that starting today, his bosses have ordered him to stay at home until he is called back to duty after the Kenyan election process is done, adding that they have also informed their customers of the same.
Solomon Nsimire, the chairperson of the Uganda Bus Operators Association, says that as an association they did not come up with a common stand about the situation, and that the discussion was left to individual companies to take a stand.