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Citizen Weekly

Sunday, 10 August 2014

COAST MPs WARN ON MOMBASA PORT SALE




A group of Coast MPs has cautioned the government against rushing the privatisation of the port of Mombasa, saying that the move is meant to benefit a few individuals at the expense of other Kenyans.

Speaking at Bandari College in Mombasa at a meeting convened by Dock Workers Union, MPs
Abdulswamad Nassir (Mvita), Khatib Mwashetani (Lunga Lunga) and Omar Mwinyi (Changamwe) told the government to desist from handing over the facility to private entities. They said it would be unfair to lay off thousands of employees for few companies can benefit.

“We are perturbed by this issue of wanting to privatise the port of Mombasa without even having widely consulted other stakeholders including parliament. We feel a few individuals are out to control port resources at the expense of the wider good. Why can’t the government go for the ailing firms first before thinking of touching KPA which is making billions in profits?” the Mvita MP posed.

Mwashetani urged KPA employees to resist the privatisation, saying Coast political leadership would rally behind them to defeat the controversial move.

“For the last 20 years, Coast people have been opposing the privatisation of the port of Mombasa because they believe the facility should benefit them through employment opportunities. If the port is sold, it is even doubtful companies owned by Coastals will get opportunities to do business there. We are opposed to this idea where a few people from elsewhere meet in a club and pass resolutions which they then want us to rubberstamp,” he said.


Mwinyi criticised the Jubilee administration for allegedly being greedy and attempting to shortchange Coast people. He said if the port cannot be left the way it is operating now, it should then be handed over to the county government. He warned local leaders will not allow the facility to be sold through the back door. 

The dock workers union general secretary Simon Sang said a few individuals with vested interests had misled the government that the port’s performance can only improve if it is privatised. He said the port is already doing well and only needs a few adjustments to make it world class.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that the proponents of privatisation have allegedly schemed to weaken the dock workers’ union in a bid to push through their agenda.  Among those accused of perfecting this scheme is Kenya Ports Authority chairman Danson Mungatana. Sources at the union claim the port chairman was behind a group of five union members led by James Kisaku who a few days ago shocked other port employees when they issued a press statement supporting the privatisation.

Mungatana, they also claim, has managed to convince the Coast Parliamentary Group chairman Gideon Mung’aro to be silent on the matter. A senior union official lamented that Mung’aro who was initially vocal about the issue has since gone quiet.

“We were getting convinced that Mung’aro was almost becoming a Mijikenda kingpin and spokesman but with the way he is behaving in this sensitive issue of port privatisation, I think he cannot be trusted anymore. The Mijikenda will ask him hard questions if the port is sold by the Jubilee,” said an influential union official who hails from Kilifi county.

The union is exploring several options including appearing before the senate labour committee to make a presentation on the situation.