Naivasha Dry Port: The Controversial Ksh6.9 Billion Facility And Links to Kenyatta Family

Naivasha Dry Port: Functions of the Ksh6.9 Billion Facility And Links to Kenyatta Family
The Naivasha Dry Port. |Photo| Courtesy|

The Naivasha Inland Container Depot popularly known as the Naivasha Dry Port rests on over 1,000 acres and can load two million tonnes of cargo every year. A Dry Port is a Customs area, connected directly to a seaport by railway and road.

The dry port was intended to reduce congestion at the Nairobi ICD and Mombasa port, cut the number of trucks on the roads and facilitate seamless trans-shipment of goods to neighbouring countries. Just like the Embakasi dry port, the Naivasha facility provides storage of cargo. This created more space for handling more cargo, and improve efficiency, which would attract more trade, including transhipment business at the Mombasa Port.

The Naivasha dry port was the fourth to be established in Kenya behind the Eldoret Inland Port; Inland Container Depot in Embakasi (ICDE) which is linked by rail to Port Mombasa and the Inland Container Depot in Kisumu which links Lake Victoria with Mombasa Port by rail.

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Naivasha Dry Port: Functions of the Ksh6.9 Billion Facility And Links to Kenyatta Family
The Naivasha Dry Port. |Photo| Courtesy|

Construction of the facility began in October 2018. It was constructed for $68 million (approximately Ksh6.9 billion) by China Communications Construction Company Limited. It was officially handed over to the government on May 7, 2020.

The money was used to develop an inland container depot, railway marshalling yard, logistics zone and public utility area. It also funded other core enabling infrastructures to support the development of the Naivasha Special Economic Zone.

Also Read: Portside Freight Terminals: The Company Owned By Joho Family Minting Billions From The Port Of Mombasa

Kenya opted to construct the dry port to safeguard its transit business following the drop of Rwanda and Burundi-bound cargo over the years to negligible levels after the two countries opted for Dar es Salaam.

Uganda and South Sudan account for 95 per cent of Mombasa port’s transit business, with the Democratic Republic of Congo also emerging as an important destination for cargo shipped via the northern corridor.

The Naivasha Dry Port helped Kenya cut some 1,200 kilometres of trucking distance (the distance to and from Mombasa) on Kampala and Juba-bound cargo.

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Phase 2A, which covers the extension of the Standard Gauge Railway line to the Geothermal town of Naivasha was launched by President Kenyatta in September 2015. This line was undertaken by China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) at a cost of Ksh105 billion.

The Nairobi-Naivasha line is an extension of the Mombasa-Nairobi line and construction is expected to start in 2018. It will be financed by China EXIM Bank.

Phase 2A of the SGR line runs across parts of Nairobi, Kajiado, Kiambu, Nakuru and Narok counties and covers 120km. It follows the escarpment to Mai Mahiu, cross road B33, and passes through the South of Mount Longonot to Naivasha.

The route starts from the west end of the Nairobi South Hub (endpoint of the Mombasa – Nairobi SGR). It then turns south-westwards through the Nairobi National Park and west past Twala and Ongata Rongai towns. The line then crosses the Magadi Road next to the Adventists University and Ngong Road at Embulbul.

It then descends into Rift Valley through a tunnel located North-West of Ngong Hills and proceeds North-West to the proposed Industrial Parks at Mai Mahiu and Suswa where it crosses B3 at Duka Moja. For this section of the project, the length of the sub-grade is 87.98 km.

It links the port of Mombasa to the Naivasha Industrial Park where the dry port is located.

Naivasha Dry Port: Functions of the Ksh6.9 Billion Facility And Links to Kenyatta Family
The Naivasha Dry Port. |Photo| Courtesy|

Links to Kenyatta Family

When former President Uhuru Kenyatta rerouted the Standard gauge Railway to pass through Naivasha, many Kenyans raised concerns as to the intent of the Head of State for the project.

In 2017, ODM leader Raila Odinga claimed that the SGR was diverted to Naivasha to benefit the Kenyatta Family. Raila said that the dry port and the line through which the SGR passes is land owned by President Kenyatta and his family. He noted that the original SGR route was meant to be constructed from Mombasa to Nairobi and then direct to Kisumu.

“The move to divert the SGR to Naivasha is meant benefit the Uhuru family which owns the land where the industrial park will be located,” he said.

At the time, Raila questioned the rationale to construct the dry port in Naivasha noting that the lakeside town did not even have an airport.

“When Kibaki and I gave nod to the project, it was meant to start from Mombasa to Kisumu but due to some poor leadership, it has been diverted to Naivasha. We wanted this SGR to run to where there is a port and an International airport but Jubilee’s greed has changed the entire thing,” he said.

Cargo Clearance Reverted to the Port of Mombasa

President William Ruto made good his campaign promise when he ordered all cargo clearance to be reverted to Mombasa.

“I will be issuing instructions for clearing of goods and other attendant operational issues to revert to Mombasa Port as I made a commitment to Kenyans. This will restore thousands of jobs in the city of Mombasa,” Dr Ruto stated during his inauguration.

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