MOMBASA, KENYA - A washed-out road in Kenya has blocked the flow of goods from Kenya's Indian Ocean port of Mombasa for a second straight day, officials said on Wednesday, choking the main trade route into East Africa.
Mombasa handles imports such as fuel and other vital goods for Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan and eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Queues began forming at about 10 a.m. local time (0700GMT) on Wednesday when heavy rains swept away a temporary road about 50km from Mombasa. The road was being used as a diversion while the main highway leading to the capital, Nairobi, was repaired.
Police and truckers stuck on the road say the queues are now almost 50km long, with many trucks, busses and cars stranded far from towns and villages where they can purchase water and food.
“I have not eaten since yesterday morning, not showered and not even changed clothes,” Nathaniel Chweya, a truck driver hauling 10 cars to the Ugandan capital of Kampala, told Reuters.
Police urged patience as some motorists threatened to stage protests. “We are working on it. This is not an easy task and we are all affected. Give us time,” Martin Kariuki, Coast regional traffic police commandant, said.
Willingtone Kiberenge, acting chief executive of the truck owners' umbrella body, Kenya Transporters Association, said the delays were piling on losses for trucking companies.
“We have more than 1,500 trucks stuck in the traffic since yesterday. Nothing much has changed and the problem is escalating. The Kenya Highways Authority must do something quickly because it is already a crisis,” he said.
A Mombasa port official said the cargo operations were still normal. “But if the problem on the highway persists into the weekend, it will affect truck turn-around time and therefore we shall begin to feel the effect through cargo backlog,” said Hajj Masemo, Mombasa port spokesman.