Uganda: Freight forwarders plan alternative routes ahead of Kenyan elections

The Uganda Freight Forwarders Association leadership says the 2007 post-election violence in Kenya that disrupted business forcing them into losses is still fresh in their minds and they are not taking chances.

Speaking to the New Vision, Charles Mwebembezi the association chairman noted that 5 years later, they are still scared of what could transpire again in the forthcoming Aug 9 general elections.

He says they are now looking at alternative routes for safety of both cargo and lives involved in transit.

“The truth is that the tension in Kenya has scared us again and we are not taking chances, in fact we are advising our members not to keep their eggs in one basket. We want them to explore alternative routes for their own safety. Mombasa through Malaba or Busia to Uganda is the shortest route, but if it turns unsafe then we think using the Southern corridor is ideal,” Mwebembezi explained.

He added that although seven years ago the southern corridor through Dar es Salaam to Kampala was unsafe and dusty, this has now changed with maximum security and reduction of check points and weigh bridges.

“A lot has been done over the years; the route is passable though longer. Also, we expect our members to use the central corridor from Kisumu through Lake Victoria, all these should ensure that cargo reaches Uganda in real time.”

Mwebembezi said every alternative route comes with a cost but it’s safer. For instance, currently a 40 feet container from Mombasa through Busia would cost between USD 3,500 – 4,000 while a 20 feet container costs between USD 2,500 -3,000. If one uses the Southern route, they will pay an extra of between USD 700-1,000, but for a business person, safety of the goods is more precious than the costs incurred.

The association is also looking to utilize the Local Marine Cargo Insurance which came into effect at the start of this financial year.

The preparations by UFFA came days after government of Uganda announced that it was getting set to avoid being caught off guard as was the case in 2017. Solomon Muyita, the Energy ministry spokesperson, recently while appearing on one of the local stations said that the government could have as many as three backups if the northern corridor route is affected by any post-election violence.

So, what would happen to Uganda in a worst-case scenario after the Kenyan elections?

Well, Dr. Fred Muhumuza a seasoned economist says the major impact would be fuel prices shooting higher though it would not last long.

“These elections are happening at a time when these countries need one another, Uganda would suffer but Kenyans too need food from Uganda, so they would not allow their citizens to starve. But secondly, Ugandans have lived under very harsh conditions for a while and are now used to it, so surely, they can get through any emergencies,” Muhumuza said. 

Source: Nam News Network

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