Stations meant to decongest East Africa corridor set for inspection

Stations meant to decongest East Africa corridor set for inspection
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Stations meant to decongest East Africa corridor set for inspection

The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) and Northern Corridor stakeholders will this month begin inspection and certification of roadside stations (RSS) aimed at decongesting and reducing accidents.
The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) and Northern Corridor stakeholders will this month begin inspection and certification of roadside stations (RSS) aimed at decongesting and reducing accidents. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) and Northern Corridor stakeholders will this month begin inspection and certification of roadside stations (RSS) aimed at decongesting and reducing accidents.

The RSS programme, which also seeks to identify safe places for cargo crew, was launched in 2015 and has so far identified 141 roadside sites within East Africa Community member states.

Out of these stations 67 are a priority and will be geo-fenced to ensure cargo loss is minimised while drivers get proper place to rest after stipulated working hours.

Starting next week, the KRA will begin inspecting and geo-fencing the sites to legalise them for use after disruption of Covid-19 pandemic.

“The Northern Corridor Member States are committed to develop Roadside Stations as an integral part of transport infrastructure services along the corridor and to develop and adopt policies and regulatory frameworks for promoting RSS in partnership with the private sector,” said Northern Corridor Transport and Transit Authority (NCTTA) executive secretary, Omae Nyarandi.

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He noted that the agency secretariat in collaboration with KRA will undertake a stakeholders’ inspection of parking yards along the corridor starting with Shell and Premium Bonje facilities in Mombasa, to assess their adequacy to serve as roadside stations with a view of geo-fencing the two facilities by KRA for use by trucks loaded with cargo subjected to customs control.

“The expected outcome of this exercise is to make recommendations to the relevant authorities (ministries of transport, and that of EAC) to grant the RSS status to the parking yards. The revenue authorities will also be involved in this process so that the upgraded parking yards can be geo-fenced and gazetted,” said Mr Nyarandi.

During weekly online meetings on trade facilitation along the corridor in the wake of Covid-19, stakeholders have raised issue of parking yards at the border on both sides of Uganda and Kenya. In Uganda, parking owners (private sector) have been complaining about officials’ redundant requests of closing those parking and asking truck drivers not to park there.

In response to the complaints, officials often defended themselves by raising safety concerns and security measures related to Covid-19 with regards to those private parking. On the Kenya side, it was noted that there are no parking yards to ease congestion at the border and instead trucks park along the road at both Malaba and Busia borders.

Similarly, it was reported that truckers are penalised by KRA when they park at Shell Bonje, Mombasa, while awaiting entry into Mombasa Port to deliver exports or for overnight parking before commencing their transit journey after picking cargo from the Port.

Shell and Premium Energy Bonje which can provide safe and secure parking for over 300 trucks, their construction envisioned the model for Roadside Stations as approved for implementation by the Northern Corridor Council of Ministers.

The initiative had attracted the attention of both policy makers and private sector players with the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, it has been noted that having functional RSS and Wellness centres to help in the fight against communicable diseases such as corona virus, Ebola, HIV/Aids is highly dispensable and urgent.

The pandemic revealed the need to revive the implementation of the establishment of the Roadside Stations by identifying and surveying private sector initiatives similar to RSS along the Corridor with a view of granting the RSS status to those which comply with the RSS facility requirements.

In Kenya alone, about 3000 people lose their lives in road traffic crashes every year hurting Kenyan economy to a tune of Sh350 billion annually, an equivalent of 5.6 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP) as a result of fatigue and the roadside rest station will play a big role in reducing the numbers.

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