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Job losses loom as Mombasa clearing firms face closure

Murimi Mutiga @murimimutiga

Clearing and forwarding firms have started feeling the effect of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) cargo freight services with fear of massive job losses growing high.

This follows directive by Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia that all unnominated cargo for upcountry be moved by train to the Nairobi Inland Container Depot (ICD). Once taken to the ICD, shippers will be expected to clear their cargo from there.

This means that cargo agents will lose clearance jobs that were normally being undertaken in Mombasa. The loss of job has already hit medium-size clearing and forwarding firms in Mombasa. Other companies are still exploring strategies of how to survive the SGR onslaught with an option of relocating to Nairobi or opening branch offices there.

Radi Logistics Limited director Josphat Mungai said the future of the clearing and forwarding industry in Mombasa looks grim. He claimed that shippers’ cargo are still being moved through SGR to the ICD without their consent even after having nominated cargo to Container Freight Stations (CFS).

Mungai said this is contrary to statement by the Transport CS that only un-nominated cargo would be moved to Nairobi. “This move is likely to render many people jobless. If they take containers to Nairobi, then cargo agents in Mombasa will be left clearing vehicles only,” he said.

Another cargo agent, Peter Owino of Petrosa General Contractors Limited said many companies are weighing the option of moving to Nairobi or opening just an office to tap on the new opportunity created by the ICD. “Mombasa is going to remain a skeleton town in terms of clearing and forwarding business, companies will be forced to lay off staff,” he said.

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