Ruto reverses Uhuru directive as cargo clearance reverts to Mombasa Port

Ruto reverts cargo clearance back to Mombasa Port

President William Ruto will make his first official tour as the fifth President to the Coast this week after ordering that all cargo clearance be reverted to Mombasa port. The declaration made Tuesday was received warmly by stakeholders who thanked Dr Ruto for honouring his campaign promise by reversing the directive issued by former President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Transfer of port services from Mombasa to the Nairobi and Naivasha Inland Container Depots (ICD) was a hot topic in the presidential campaigns in Mombasa and Nakuru counties.

Leaders from Mombasa have been supporting the return of port operations to the coastal city, as their Nakuru counterparts push for more investment in the Naivasha ICD. 

“I will be issuing instructions for clearing of goods and other attendant operational issues to revert to Mombasa Port as I made a commitment to Kenyans. This will restore thousands of jobs in the city of Mombasa,” Dr Ruto said.

Port stakeholders have welcomed Dr Ruto’s decree to, saying the move will revive the economy.

Kenya International Forwarding and Warehousing Association (Kifwa) chairman Roy Mwanthi said they expect booming business because it will not be mandatory to move cargo via the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR).

"The move by President Ruto is commendable and now we want the executive order to be implemented immediately," said Mr Mwanthi.

He said thousands of people had lost jobs after the government made it mandatory to ferry all goods to Nairobi and other hinterlands through the SGR. The Naivasha ICD will remain a futuristic depot.

"The government facilities should be left open to those willing to use them and the government should make them efficient,” he said.

Kenya Transporters Association Chairman Newton Wang'oo said: "We expect our members to benefit from the executive order where trucks will be back on the road." 

The stakeholders remained optimistic the incoming government will give freedom to importers to choose where to clear their cargo and the mode of transport to use from the port of Mombasa. 

Cargo handlers had been seeking the Kenya Kwanza administration to reverse some Jubilee government policies, among them compulsory evacuation of cargo using SGR.

In his Mombasa tour expected on Thursday or Friday, the President is also expected to attend the governors’ induction.

The visit also comes as the longstanding issue of picking a managing director for the Kenya Port Authority (KPA) after the exit of Dr Daniel Manduku in 2020 persists. 

The leadership vacuum at the KPA, one of the most highly patronised state corporations in the country, is raising concerns among key stakeholders. 

The lack of a substantive MD since Mr Manduku’s resignation in March in 2020 has been causing jitters at the port.