BY PETER KOMBE
Coast region leadership has been told to remain united, focused and relentlessly fight against any attempt to privatise Kenya Ports Authority’s Second Container Terminal.
Mombasa County Governor Hassan Joho, speaking to seafarers at Tononoka Hall on May 20, 2019, alleged some leaders whom he did not name were taking advantage of the privatization question to wedge division among the regional leadership.
“This move (privatisation) is geared towards breeding division amongst us. We shall not allow that to create seeds of discord but rather make us demand for facts and figures to be put on table for everybody to see,” he said.
OPEN AND TRANSPARENT
The whole process of privatisation, according to him, was not being done in an open and transparent manner thus the sparking unnecessary speculations and rumours among stakeholders and locals.
Under the 2010 Constitution, Mr Joho said any public matters should follow the right legal channels by involving the members of the public as enshrined in the document.
Saying they were not opposing anyone, the County chief added that what they were questioning was the manner in which the process was being done without caring to explain or give information to the same.
The governor asked President Uhuru Kenyatta to scrutinize the amendment bill of the Merchant Shipping Act claiming that there were some ‘selfish interests’ within the document.
Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir accused a section of Coast locals being used to spearhead demonstrations against leaders perceived to be of contrary views about the privatisation process.
Dismissing them those behind the protests, he said the coastal legislators would not be cowed into submission by few disgruntled elements out to tarnish their names before the local population.
“No amount of public pressure or demonstrations will shake our resolve against improper privatisation process that is not legally binding,” he said adding that those who protested were not genuine seafarers but people given little pennies to demonstrate.
He warned that the Coastal leadership was ready and capable of mobilizing the locals in protest marches if the government fails to listen and proceed with the process of privatizing second container terminal.
“We shall only support the privatisation process and rally behind it if the Kenya National Shipping Line is 100 per cent Kenyan owned,” he added.
His Changamwe counterpart Omar Mwinyi said the Port of Mombasa was the lifeline of the Coast region adding that the residents have an exclusive right to push for what rightfully belongs to them.
“We are enemies within ourselves. Let us bury our differences and stay focused,” he appealed to his fellow colleagues urging the locals to work together with the leaders for the benefit of the entire region.
Kisauni MP Ali Mbogo said the leaders would not allow the port to be privatized and the privatisation any part of the port was a serious issue that should not be taken lightly.
“We are against the privatization process and as regional leaders we shall not accept that period!” he said adding that they would rally behind seafarers and their plight facing them at large.
Likoni MP Mishi Mboko urged the government to strengthen Bandari College by equipping it with the necessary facilities to offer maritime skills to the locals.
“We shall not keep silent. We have been blackmailed as leaders by some of us,” she claimed and decried the low wages by Kenyan seafarers compared to their foreign counterparts.
Senator Mohammed Faki (Mombasa) urged locals to protect their heritage including the port alleging the amending of the Merchant shipping Act would harm seafarers.
“Kenya has the ability to purchase ships. This amendment will work against the will of seafarers,” he said.
The sea farers presented a petition to Mombasa county governor Ali Hassan Joho addressing their plight.
Those in attendance were MP William Kamoti (Rabai), Kwale Senator Issa Boy Juma, Lamu and Mombasa women representatives Ruweida Obo and Asha Hussein respectively.
Currently, the Coast region leadership is split into those opposed to the privatisation plan and led by the Mvita and Changamwe legislators and those throwing caution on the issue led by the Lunga Lunga MP Khatib Mwashetani.
In 2015, some 19 companies bid for cargo handling at the port’s new terminal among which were Hutchison Ports Investments (Hong-Kong), DP World (Dubai) and PSA International (Singapore).
Others lined up for the pre-qualification include China Merchants Holdings, APM Terminals and SSA Port Terminal all ranked among the world’s top ten terminal operators.