Tuesday, May 22, 2007

A report card for Cameroonian Bureaucracy

"There is so much bureaucracy here and it takes long before anything is approved,” (All Africa)

It took Cameroonian authorities:
  • At least fours to inform Kenya Airways of plane disappearance,
  • 11 hours to start searching for the plane,
  • 40 hours to find the wreckage that was 12 miles from the airport,
  • 10 days and intense diplomatic pressure to let foreign pathologists do their job,
  • And still dragging their feet on investigation

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Is Rift Valley Railways Scared of Magadi Soda?

A commercial battle is brewing between the newly formed Rift Valley Railways (RVR) and Magadi Soda Company. RVR wants Magadi to pay more for the use of Konza-Mombasa railway track. But Magadi will hear none of that; it argues that a 1997 contract with KR gave it exclusive rights to use the railway line until 2023. The rail operator has retaliated by holding Magadi’s fuel hostage until it agrees to pay higher rates.

I am persuaded that this epic controversy has less to do with rates. It's all about supremacy in Kenya’s railway transport sub-sector. There exists bitter commercial blood since both companies competed for the control of Kenya Railways.

RVR (K) Ltd—which won the contract—knows that Magadi is interested in rail freight business. Magadi has done little to hide its plans. Just months after loosing KR bid to RVR, Magadi bought five brand new locomotives, and returned five old ones it had leased from the defunct state owned rail operator.

Bottom Line
: “Did Magadi buy FIVE engines just for its own private use?” I doubt it. A company that built a 144-km railway line, from Konza to Magadi, has more than Soda ash on its long-range business plans.