Mombasa port grain facility tender applicants call for transparency

The High Court suspended the award of a licence last week.

In Summary

•Activist Okiya Omtatah had gone to court claiming KPA board of directors, without any authority, reviewed and approved the grant of licence to Portside Freight Terminals.

•Five firms eyeing the project have asked both KPA and the National Treasury to employ a competitive process that will in no way be construed to favor any party.

Workers arrange bags of wheat in a godown at the Mombasa port
IMPORTS: Workers arrange bags of wheat in a godown at the Mombasa port
Image: FILE

Five firms eyeing the development of a second bulk grain handling facility at Mombasa have called for transparency. 

This is after the High Court last week suspended the award of a licence by Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) to Portside Freight Terminals.

Judge Reuben Nyakundi issued the directive following an application by activist Okiya Omtatah who claimed the KPA board of directors, without any authority, reviewed and approved the grant of licence. 

Omtatah had argued that the procurement decisions are a preserve of the KPA management, specifically the accounting officer, and not the board of directors.

It is evidently clear that KPA and Treasury CS Ukur Yatani have employed the use of specially permitted procurement procedure (SPPP) to avoid the competition of bidder and is being applied in favour of Portside,” he said.

The court issued a stay in the implementation, procurement and award of license by the first respondent (KPA) for the development of the grain handling facility.

This is pursuant to "the second Respondent (Ministry of National Treasury and Planning) approval dated June 28, 2021 granting KPA’s for the use of specially Permitted Procurement Procedure for this purpose.”

Interested parties in the case were Kilindini Terminals Ltd, Mombasa Grain Terminals Ltd, KAPA Oil refinery, Africa Port and Terminals Ltd, Multiship International and Kipevu Inland Container EPZ Ltd, who also had the backing of the Dock Workers Union.

In a statement yesterday, the companies asked KPA to review and consider their applications, adding that the process should adhere to the Public Procurement Act.

“This landmark decision by our honourable court is one of the many we have instituted to bring about an even play ground especially in procurement. In the spirit of righting the wrongs,” a joint statement seen by the Star reads in part.

Further, recommendation are proposed that the Port Master Plan be the basic guideline in this tendering process.

The dispute over the recruitment of a second bulk grain handler at the port saw  Yatani clash with MPs a month ago.

The Finance Committee of the National Assembly chaired by Homa Bay Woman Representative Gladys Wanga argued that bulk grain handlers can only be recruited through competitive bidding.

Omtatah, in his court documents, indicates that on June 28, Yatani approved the use of  specially permitted procurement procedure (SPPP)  to award Portside the contract.

The use of an SPPP does not meet the required threshold and the same is being used to avoid competition from the other interested parties,he said.

KPA under its masterplan 2019-47 is keen to develop a second bulk grain handling facility by 2023, noting increasing bulk volumes at the port.

The authority yesterday avoided making a comment.

The second grain facility was to take advantage of the development of Dongo Kundu as a special economic zone, the Lamu Port and the revitalised Kisumu Port.