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Ugandan traders urged to take advantage of Mombasa port expansion

Ambassador Katureebe Tayebwa. PHOTO via @URAuganda

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Uganda’s consul general to Mombasa, Ambassador Katureebe Tayebwa has urged Ugandans to take advantage of the expansion of the Mombasa Port and the completed Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) leg to Nairobi to export or import more goods but also lower transport costs.

Tayebwa said the expanded facilities will give Ugandan exporters an opportunity to bring in more goods. He gave an example of the Ugandan tea that goes through the Mombasa tea auction.

“There is a variety of other export products that pass through this port. For example, most of Uganda’s tea exports go through the Mombasa Tea Auction, the biggest in the whole world,” he said.

He was speaking at the 3rd trade and business facilitation symposium hosted by the Uganda Consulate in Mombasa Kenya on Monday. The symposium, attended by Ugandan and Kenyan traders, will run up to August 14, 2019.

“This Symposium gives transit countries the opportunity to appreciate Kenya’s initiatives to improve infrastructure especially the expansion of Mombasa port and construction of the first phase of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) from Mombasa to Naivasha,” Amb. Tayebwa said while opening the symposium today.

Mombasa is a major gateway for East Africa and Uganda’s share of imports and exports amounts to 82 per cent of all transit cargo through this port.

The expansion means large vessels operated by top shipping lines now call on the port on a regular basis to load and unload cargo, a critical development for countries like Uganda that depend on it for export-import trade. Uganda’s main export, coffee, also goes through Mombasa port.

In March, while on a visit to Kenya, President Yoweri Museveni said his counterpart Uhuru Kenyatta had given Uganda land in Naivasha to construct a dry cargo port. This would act as a holding port for Uganda’s cargo that lands in Mombasa.

All these, according to Tayebwa, will facilitate Ugandan traders’ smooth movement of goods into and out of the country.

There are issues that Ugandan traders are expected to raise at the two-day symposium, including the fact that they lose their cargo more often whenever they dock at Mombasa port and the high demurrage fees.

With the absence of the SGR leg to Kampala, it is still expensive for traders to move their goods from Nairobi, where the Kenya leg currently stops, to Kampala.

Tayebwa said he was hopeful the railway line will be completed.

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