SGR PRESS STATEMENT
During his 2020 Madaraka day speech President Kenyatta quoted Sir Charles Elliot,who supervised the construction of “The Lunatic Express”
“…It is not UNCOMMON for a country to create a railway;but it is UNCOMMON for a railway to create a country..’
While President intended to make the case that SGR will serve to strengthen our county’s economic standing and reinforce our comparative advantage as the regional transport hub ,it is no longer hidden that the SGR is a monumental albatross on the neck of our economic life now and a threat to our stability an well-being in the days ahead.Had prudent planning and management informed the conceptualization and execution of the SGR ,the woeful state in which kenya’s largest post independent infrastructure project finds itself could have been averted.
1.Proper planing of the SGR would have served to cement and reinforce the strategic position of Mombasa as the logistical and transport hub of Kenya and the region and an employer of choice to thousands of coastal and Kenyan communities.The billions of shillings generated by the port would have received multiplier effect through the incorporation of backward and forward linkages with the already established economic ecosystem in Mombasa and along the railway routes through the Yatta plains and beyond.Instead ,the SGR,like hurricane,has uprooted the economic livelihoods of thousands and laid waste the social resiliences of many truck drivers, clearing and forwarding firms and many other ancillary support systems already in place.That no safeguards were built into ensuring that these sectors are sustained is negligent and a dereliction of duty amounting to economic sabotage of Mombasa and large swathes of eastern Kenya.
2.While Mombasa is being economically hollowed out, the key question that Kenyans must ask is who is benefiting from this project whose sustainability requires a daily remittance of 50 million Kenya shillings to the Chinese government in debt repayment?This question is best answered by looking at the ownership structures of land and related infrastructure around the Nairobi and Naivasha ports.
3.The key argument in support of the SGR was that it would reduce freight transport to our neighbours in East Africa.Has it?in his letter to Kampala ,Cs Transport, Macharia,stated that SGR handling cost of ¢ 1930 for a 20 feet container was cheaper by 520 dollars.In a tacit rejoinder, Kenya transport association,an umbrella body for the proprietors of kenya’s 5 billion dollar transit good sector stated that the actual costs as USD 2270 when using rail and road and USD 2100 when using road only from Mombasa to kampala.In other word , the road option was cheaper by USD170 per 20 feet container.The dishonesty with which the cabinet secretary has sought to persuade regional partners to use the SGR has been exposed for being hollow and incapable of standing the rigour of the real financial analysis, putting this 320 billion investment at great risk of being under-utilised.
4.As if the foregoing challenges are not enough,the Court of Appeal last week ruled that the lack of transparency in the manner in whichever the SGR financing was negotiated was fatal to its enforceability in Kenya.As such ,the loan acquired by Kenya is an odious debt that must not be repaid in its current permutation.It is important that Kenyans of goodwill resist the stealth and surreptitious manner with which the Kenyatta government is treating questions on the legitimacy and viability of this SGR project.Kenyans must demand full transparency and prosecution of all participants in the ASGR contracting processes in so far as they are complicit in this grand looting of kenyans all resources.Should government continue to deny kenyans all information material to the SGR financing, kenyans have a constitutional duty to use all legal means permissible under our progressive constitutional order incarnated in 2010,to pursue remidies within our judicial and political framework and beyond.