• Rwanda truckers could face axle-load dilemma
Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki yesterday ordered that all Kenyan main border posts and the Indian Ocean port of Mombasa operate 24 hours a day in an effort to speed up the movement of cargo along the Northern Corridor.
A statement from the State House Nairobi announced that in a bid to speed up the process at weigh bridges, Kibaki had also ordered that sealed trucks should now only be weighed at the source, thereby removing the dozen or so weigh bridges in the country.
Much of Rwanda’s imports come through Mombasa, Kenya’s main port and are transported using the corridor.
“The President has further directed that unnecessary police road blocks that delay the free movement of goods be done away with while trucks with four axle loads will not be allowed on Kenyan roads,” read the statement from State House.
Kibaki directed that the new measures be put in place within one week.
The head of Policy and Strategy and unit in the Office of the President in Kigali, David Himbara, welcomed the new policy adding that it was a challenge to Rwandan businesses.
“This shows that Kenya means business and once again Rwanda stands to benefit. As the chair of the East African Community (EAC), we should build on this momentum,” he said.
“We will need to spread this kind of thinking in all partner states of the EAC because it is not one country alone but we should all play our part, We need speed, speed means money which translates into development,” Himbara pointed out.
He however warned Rwandan businesses not to be complaisant, urging them to instead see this as an opportunity to increase productivity.
“This is about competence, about productivity. That is all the reason more why we are excited because it puts the ball in our court and we should ask ourselves; are we ready to trade” are we ready to work 24 hours, streamline and minimize police checkpoints?”
Himbara was however apprehensive of the effect of the ban on four-axle load trucks on the country’s transport sector.
“This ban has serious implications since most Rwandan trucks are of the type. It will cause some considerable challenges to local transporters because they will have to modify their trucks and it will need time,” added Himbara.
He told the New Times last evening that the Rwandan Private Sector Federation (PSF) had been alerted and were studying the new directives. They are expected to issue a statement later.
President Kagame, who is also the current chair of the East African Community recently commissioned a survey to identify factors that hamper business along the Northern Corridor and poor border services featured prominently.
Kibaki’s declaration came after a meeting that brought him together with officials from several government organs which deal in trade, finance, security, immigration and transport.
The same meeting resolved that clearance of cargo at the port of Mombasa should be reduced from 48 hours to a maximum of 24 ours.