A recent push to move business via the Djibouti route poses a new threat to the Port of Mombasa, depriving Kenya of revenue from the 1.1 million tonnes of cargo the facility handles each year.
For all shipments going to the landlocked nation, Mombasa has always been the primary route; nevertheless, South Sudan currently claims that Port of Djibouti is shorter.
“We are in talks with Djibouti authorities so that we can connect Djibouti, Ethiopia, and South Sudan to use Djibouti port through Ethiopia,” deputy chairperson for Chamber of Commerce in South Sudan Lado Lukak Legge was quoted saying by the media in Sudan.
“Djibouti is near to South Sudan compared to Mombasa port in Kenya and the government of Djibouti is willing to strengthen trade ties with South Sudan and Ethiopia,” he said.
Macharia Kamau, the principal secretary for foreign affairs, told reporters that Kenya is not yet concerned about the push.
Inquiries we made on the government’s official stance on the issue were not answered by the South Sudanese embassy in Nairobi.
With 9.9% of all transit volumes, South Sudan is the second-highest user of Mombasa port after Uganda. The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, and Rwanda follow Uganda with 7.2, 3.2, and 2.4 percent of the total throughput cargo, respectively.
John Mwangemi, the managing director of the Kenya Port Authority (KPA), declined to comment on the situation, claiming that the port was unaware of the action.
“I cannot comment on that matter, we have not received any communication from South Sudan in regard to that matter,” said Amb Mwangemi.
If the change is effective, it will also affect the recently built dry ports in Nairobi and Naivasha, where South Sudan-bound cargo was scheduled to be cleared at the Inland Container Depot (ICD).
Kenya and South Sudan have reached an agreement to begin clearing cargo bound for Juba in Nairobi this month.
President Uhuru Kenyatta declared in 2019 that Kenya would give South Sudan 10 acres of land in the Naivasha special economic zone to build a dry port.
The area was intended to facilitate the transportation of goods to the neighboring country and served as an inducement for Juba to use Kenya as a transit route for its cargo.
Over the years, Kenya and South Sudan have worked to complete transnational roads, such as the Eldoret-Lokichoggio-Nadapal-Kapoeta-Torit-Juba Road, which would facilitate the flow of freight between the two nations.
Kenya has also accelerated the completion of the oil pipeline, Lamu Port, and South Sudan Ethiopia (Lapset) to connect the two nations.
This occurs at a time when some shippers are switching their cargo to the Central Corridor from the Northern Corridor, which connects cargo from the port of Mombasa to Juba, Kigali, Kampala, as well as the DRC.
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