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China Was Never Going to Seize the Port of Mombasa if Kenya Defaulted on its SGR Debts

An oil tanker carrying 200,000 barrels of crude oil worth Ksh 1.2 billion is berthed at Kipevu Oil Terminal in Kenya's port city of Mombasa August 26, 2019. AFP.

For many Kenyans, the Port of Mombasa is much more than just a container terminal that facilitates shipping trade with the outside world. It’s a prized national asset that serves as an indispensable economic hub for all of East Africa and a facility that hundreds of thousands of people, maybe even millions, depend upon for their livelihoods.

So last December, people were shocked when leaked images of a report from the Kenya Auditor General’s office revealed, for the first time, the terms of the Chinese loans used to finance the $3.2 billion Nairobi to Mombasa Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) line. To say that people were stunned would be putting it mildly.

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