By Adia Jildo
The Minister of Transport Madut Biar on Tuesday denied knowledge of high charges that comes along with the cost of transportation of South Sudan Cargos with the Standard Guard Railway (SGR) from Mombasa to Nairobi Freight Terminal.
Recently, South Sudan business community and the Kenyan transporters raised an alarm over transfer of cargo clearance destined for Juba from the Mombasa port to Nairobi Freight Terminal using Standard Gauge Railway, a decision the traders and importers protested saying they were not consulted.
The shift of South Sudan cargo handling from Mombasa port to Nairobi Freight Terminal led to a standoff between importers, Transporters and the Kenyan and South Sudan Transport authorities, leading to delay in importation of goods to South Sudan which in turn triggered commodity prices hike.
However, the South Sudan Minister of Transport who was involved in the shift of the cargo route cited that it was meant to cut cost of transportation compared to Mombasa due to long distance and cargo overload at Mombasa port.
On Thursday last week, the Minister of Transport was summoned by the specialized Committee of Finance and Planning at the Transitional National Legislative Assembly to answer queries on the inflation caused by the alleged illegal tax collections and irrelevant charges alleging it to the transfer of freight terminal handling of South Sudan cargo.
Minister Madut however told the Parliamentary Committee of Finance and Planning that he was not responsible for the collection of revenues of cargo entering the country but rather concerned with the transport system of goods and service in the country.
“Issues to do with revenue collection is none of my business, it’s the concern of the revenue authority and the Ministry of Finance. I don’t collect money in my office, I only intervene on the issues of transport,” he cleared off himself of the suspected fraud.
He said, his request for the transfer of freight handling for South Sudan goods to Nairobi Freight Terminal by the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) was to cut the cost of transportation and easy accessibility of warehousing and consortium for storage.
“We found out that the SGR has the best transit corridor hence reduction in the cost of goods and the imports to support economic development,” he said. “I am having a constitutional mandate to see to it that transport cost is reduced and not increased”.
The Transport Minister defended that he did the transfer of cargo handling to Nairobi in order to reduce the cost of transport.
Madut noted that the 1,263 kilometer distance was reduced by 489 from Mombasa coupled with competitive rate which supports the business in South Sudan.
“I did this to reduce the cost of transport. It is all over the world that a cost of transport by rail is cheap” he emphasized.
Madut however called on the parliament to form a committee to investigate the cause of high transportation cost and issues regarding the freight handling of South Sudan cargo from both Nairobi and Mombasa to clear off the doubts.
“I would suggest this parliament to form a committee to go to Mombasa and have fact finding committee to find what has gone wrong,” he suggested.