Thursday, August 17, 2006


Food aid rotting at port, says envoy By Martin Mutua

The Government’s failure to waive duty on a food consignment worth millions of shillings donated by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has brought to the fore a simmering diplomatic row.

The Sh31million consignment in 16 containers, has been lying at the Port of Mombasa since May, even as millions continue to starve.

On Wednesday, the Saudi ambassador to Kenya, Mr Nabwel Ahalaf Ashour, said he was unhappy that food shipped in at the request of the Government, should rot while millions of Kenyans went hungry.

The reluctance the envoy feared, could be connected to a Sh144m grant that the Saudi Government gave Kenya last month.


The bone of contention, Ashour says, is that the money was channeled through the World Food Programme. This, Mr Ashour told The Standard, seemed to have upset some top Government officials, who he said, have called him to question why he never had the funds channeled directly to the Government instead of through WFP."I don’t want to believe that is why the food we donated is rotting at the port," he said.

Ashour said he was seeking intervention from State House, saying he has spoken to the Vice President, Mr Moody Awori, Finance minister, Mr Amos Kimunya and Special Programmes minister, Mr John Munyes, but with no success."Nothing has moved, despite talking to them," Ashour said in a telephone interview.