NAIROBI, August 5 – Prime Minister Raila Odinga is on Wednesday expected to chair a meeting with Rift Valley Railways stakeholders to determine whether or not the government will cancel the concession agreement with the firm.
Speaking in Parliament on Tuesday, the PM stated that the government was concerned about the near-collapse of the corporation and promised to issue a comprehensive statement on the way forward, possibly after the meeting.
“The railway is losing close to Sh70 million a day and its time the government dealt with the matter,” he informed Parliament.
His statements came after Members of Parliament (MPs) demanded that the Transport Minister Chirau Ali Mwakwere explain what action he had taken to resolve the current crisis at RVR.
Ikolomani MP Bonny Khalwale questioned why the corporation was not making profit and improving the railway system in the country, as agreed when the concession was signed.
His Budalangi counterpart Ababu Namwamba tabled before the House documents alleging that RVR was insolvent, raising a storm on the capability of the corporation to get out of its troubles.
Concluding debate on the issue, Deputy Speaker Farah Maalim ruled that the government should issue a statement in two weeks on how it planned to resolve the problems in RVR.
Maalim also directed the Energy, Communications and Public Works Committee to feel free to summon persons it feels could better expound on the crisis.
Earlier, Mwakwere had told Parliament that the government was concerned about the non-performance of the Kenya-Uganda Railways concessionaire.
He told MPs that corrective measures and actions, which could lead to the cancellation of the concession, had been instituted.
Mwakwere said: “They have so far failed to make any significant capital investment on the railway system and a default notice has been issued to the railways.”
He also said the government was working closely with Uganda to ensure the concessionaire meet its contractual targets.
RVR on Tuesday replaced its Managing Director and created an executive position under a new management structure to revamp its operations.
Since taking over in November, 2006, the consortium has retrenched 400 workers.
More than 500 employees have been earmarked to lose their jobs, as the company plans to down-size its staff to 2,500.
Also in Parliament, Maalim on Tuesday directed the Parliamentary Committee on Health to investigate allegations that the Alvaro drink, manufactured by East African Breweries Limited, contains alcohol.
Members had put the Industrialisation Minister Henry Kosgey to task over whether the new fruit-flavoured drink contained traces of alcohol.
Kosgey maintained that tests conducted by the Kenya Bureau of Standards and the Government Chemist indicated that the drink was fit for general consumption.
Still in the House, Former Finance Minister and Kipipiri MP Amos Kimunya apologised for taking the Grand Regency debate outside the House.
Kimunya told members that his statements at a public gathering in Kinangop that a vote of no confidence against him would not have succeeded had the Speaker Kenneth Marende been present in the House, were not meant to dishonour the House.
Kimunya was last week reprimanded by Parliament for making the remarks.
While making the ruling last Thursday, Marende said: “Mr. Kimunya conducted himself in a most disgraceful and unsatisfactory manner, calling to question the conduct of the Speaker and Parliament.”