Speaking at the flagging off a consignment of 155,000 bags of relief rice from China using the standard gauge railway’s cargo train at the port of Mombasa, Devolution and Planning Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri said the government is expecting another ship carrying 829,400 bags of maize to dock at the port.
The government also witnessed the start of the transportation of food by another SGR cargo train on Tuesday, which had 90 containers of 45,000 bags of rice to Nairobi, in addition to that of 50 trucks each carrying 500 bags of rice to other parts of the country.
A ship with 660,000 bags of maize set to be released to the market has docked at the port of Mombasa.
The CS released two SGR trains with a capacity of 6,000 tonnes of 120,000 bags of maize from Mombasa and one Rift Valley Railway train of maize which will be distributed countrywide.
“It will ensure the Sh3.7 million suffering due to drought get enough food supplies in the market,” he said.
Mr Kiunjuri said President Uhuru Kenyatta directed him to ensure Kenyans have enough food supply.
He assured Kenyans that there will be enough maize which will be distributed countrywide.
“Since October last year when the drought started biting, the government put up measures to address the situation,” Mr Kiunjuri said.
He cautioned the Opposition led by Orange Democratic Movement presidential candidate Raila Odinga against politicising the food situation.
“They are panicking because they know we are receiving adequate food supplies to last the country until the next harvest. We will also intensify food distribution in the country both for free and subsidized maize flour,” Mr Kiunjuri said.
The Cabinet Secretary also met a joint cooperation committee from the State departments involved in importation, clearance, transportation and distribution of grains in the country.
Transport Permanent Secretary Prof Paul Mwangi said the committee comprises of Kenya Ports Authority, Kenya Railways Cooperation, Kenya Revenue Authority, National Cereals and Produce Board, Kenya Bureau of Standards, hotels, government clearance agents, National Police and millers among other stakeholders.
“They are at KPA to ensure there is smooth importation, quick clearance and immediate distribution of maize and other grains,” Prof Mwangi said.
In Nyandarua, a county task force was told of how millers and suppliers have imposed unfriendly terms since the introduction of the cheap flour.
Jamaa supermarkets proprietor Elijah Thuku Karanja confirmed that some traders bought and repackaged the maize flour to sell at higher prices.
In all outlets visited by a Justus Magangi-lead task force, traders confessed that they sell the flour at Sh100, against the government directive of Sh90 for a 2-kg packet and Sh47 for a 1kg packet.
“Suppliers have imposed unfavourable conditions. They demand that we must purchase the flour together with other items. They have also imposed a limit where I can only purchase 400 bales to supply my three supermarkets in one and half weeks” Mr Karanja said.
Other brands of flour have disappeared at outlets visited in Mirangini and Ol Kalou, which the traders termed as a well-calculated move to cause artificial shortage.