Ugandan traders turn eyes on Dar es Salaam port as Kenya elections draw closer
With less than two months left for Kenya to hold elections, private sector players in Uganda and other neighbouring countries are switching eyes off Mombasa port with Tanzania’s Dar es Salaam port providing alternative for importing and exporting goods.
Mombasa port which recently recorded an 11 per cent rise in cargo growth in 2017’s first quarter serves Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, DR Congo and South Sudan.
Traders outside Kenya using Mombasa port were adversely hit by the effects of 2007/2008 Post Election Violence Kenya following a disputed presidential election.
Private sector players in Uganda say they will not take things to chance and that the use of the Dar port will resume until the elections in Kenya pass. Private Sector Foundation of Uganda executive director Gideon Badagawa, however, is optimistic the election will be peaceful.
“We have seen both Raila Odinga and Uhuru Kenyatta commit to peaceful elections and calling on their supporters to avoid violence. Of course better said than done,” Badagawa was quoted as saying by Uganda’s Daily Monitor.
“We, nevertheless, are hopeful that the environment for business shall not be much distorted,” he added saying Uganda needs to have ‘a plan B’.
“It might be a good idea to begin opening up and using the route through Dar es Salaam.”
Kampala City Traders Association spokesperson Issa Sekitto said goods should go through the Central corridor during Kenya’s electioneering period.
The Executive Director of Uganda’s National Union of Coffee Agribusiness and Farm Enterprise Joseph Nkandu said Kenya’s 2007/2008 Post Election Violence provided lessons for Ugandan importers and exporters.
During the violence, most of Uganda’s perishable exports went bad as the route from Busia and Malaba to Nairobi was blocked. Some Uganda traders were also attacked.
“Definitely this becomes more than an individual company to handle but rather a country strategy. All of us as exporters and the government of Uganda must join hands for a plan B Tanzania,” Nkandu said.