Rwanda, Uganda traders cry foul over Kenya $47.6m election losses

Kampala – Uganda and Rwanda traders are still pushing to recover almost $47.6m (Rwf32.4) they lost about five years ago in Kenya’s postelection violence but with little success.
Many cargo trucks enroute to Uganda and Rwanda were destroyed in the aftermath of the 2007 elections in Kenya, with importers suffering heavy losses. The New Times / File
Many cargo trucks enroute to Uganda and Rwanda were destroyed in the aftermath of the 2007 elections in Kenya, with importers suffering heavy losses. The New Times / File

Kampala – Uganda and Rwanda traders are still pushing to recover almost $47.6m (Rwf32.4) 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 it.

According to New Vision, the Kenyan government approved the compensation in the last budget but the matter was blocked by a senior official for unclear reasons.

However, 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 Uganda’s President Yoweri 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 agreed on 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, who was also then the chairman of the East African Community, and 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 (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.

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