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SETTING THE RECORD RIGHT

Uhuru blasts Coast MPs opposed to KNSL revival

'We don’t have time to engage in stupid things'

In Summary

• Uhuru went ballistic after hearing that the dock workers union boss was spreading falsehoods he was the one buying the second container terminal

• The President was in Mombasa to witness the signing of a shareholding agreement between the Mediterranean Shipping Company and the KNSL

President Uhuru Kenyatta and Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho at the Bandari Maritime Academy on Monday.
President Uhuru Kenyatta and Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho at the Bandari Maritime Academy on Monday.
Image: ANDREW KASUKU

 

President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday hit out at Coast MPs opposed to the running of Mombasa's second container terminal by the Kenya National Shipping Line.

The MPs, among them Mvita’s Abdulswamad Nassir and Kisauni’s Ali Mbogo,  have been in the forefront against the revival of the KNSL under its current shareholding arrangement.

 

The MPs and some trade unionists do not want a private firm to be part of the management of a national asset, arguing that doing so was tantamount to selling the CT2 (second container terminal) and loss of about 4,000 jobs.

Uhuru went ballistic when the chairman of Dock Workers Union chairman Mohamed Sheria said secretary general Simon Sang was poisoning dock workers’ minds that the President was the one buying the CT2.

He said: “Chairman, umesikia mambo ya porojo. Hata mimi nimesikia. Lakini sisi twasema shetani ashindwe. Hatuna nafasi ya kuendelea na mambo ya ujinga (Chairman, you have heard some propaganda. I have also heard it. But we say the devil must be defeated. We don’t have time to engage in stupid things).

“Tufanye kazi vijana wapatekazi, uchumi upanuke. Wa kupayuka wapayuke. Sisi haja yetu ni kazi kwa wananchi (Let us work, so that our youth get jobs and the economy expands. Let those yapping yap. Our aim is jobs for our citizens).”

Sang is opposed to the government’s move to have the KNSL run the CT2.

He and Sheria are at loggerhead over the management of the union.

Uhuru was in Mombasa to witness the signing of a shareholding agreement between the Mediterranean Shipping Company and the KNSL.

 

The Presided said the occasion marked the beginning of a well-thought-out plan to transform the national shipping line into a world-class one in the next 10 years.  

Sheria's remark about Sang elicited cynical laughter from the President, who disclosed that a manager at the Kenya Ports Authority had called him wanting to know why he was allowing the port ‘to be sold’.

Sheria said his life and those of his supporters are in danger after several threats.

“I have not slept in my house in the past month,” he said.

Uhuru directed KPA managing director Daniel Manduku to put his house in order and guard against leaders out to sabotage government’s efforts.

Bwana MD umesikia hiyo mambo ya watu wako. Uchunge hiyo mambo (Mr MD, you have heard about your people. Check on that),” he said.

Uhuru recalled that the journey to revive the blue economy and the fisheries sector started in 2016.

He said the passage of necessary legislation to support the revival of the KNSL is crucial in ensuring the growth of Kenya’s maritime economy.

The President commissioned the Bandari Maritime Academy, which is expected to become a centre of excellence in maritime training, research and skill development for the blue economy.  

The academy will be a supplier of world-class seafarers for shipping lines across the world.  

Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho said the Bandari Maritime Academy is a magnificent investment that must be supported.

He will ensure that Kwale Governor Salim Mvurya, who is the chair of the Jumuiya Ya Kaunti za Pwani, will call a meeting of the six Coast governors to decide how they will support the academy.

“We will bring all the six counties together. Part of our contribution is to support you. We can contribute even Sh5 million each,” Joho said.

“These youth training here are ours,” he said.

Uhuru also witnessed the passing out of 62 out of the 119 seafarers recruited by the MSC. “I am very pleased to note that 40 of them have already been assigned a ship, by the Mediterranean Shipping Company,” he said.

He said 22 of those flagged off are from the Coast region.

Last November, Uhuru launched the Kenya Coast Guard Service (KCGS) to secure Kenya’s territorial waters. 

The Coast Guard Service guards against illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing, provides safety to seafarers, and prevents drug smuggling as well as illegal movements of people and goods.

Uhuru said about 90 per cent of Kenya’s foreign trade is dependent on maritime transport.  

The MSC-KNSL agreement will enable Kenya to benefit from regional and global maritime transport value chain. 

The MSC is the second largest shipping company in the world and the only one that owns both cargo and cruise ships.

“We are, therefore, fortunate that, through this reinvigorated partnership, we can quickly grow our shipping capacity by riding on its wings,” the President said.

He said the agreement signed on Monday is expected to facilitate the growth of traffic throughput at CT2 to over one million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent unit), create 2,000 seafarer jobs and 1,500 sea-time training opportunities annually. 

“The bulk of these seafarer jobs will be generated through cruise shipping,” the President said, regretting that while there have been many opportunities for Kenyans to serve in foreign ships, they lacked opportunities to get sea time, a pre-requisite for serving on ships.  

The MSC has committed to create training opportunities for Kenyan youth and to provide about 3,000 jobs per year. It will provide 1,500 sea time slots for Kenyan youth. 

The KNSL, under the agreement, will gain access to more than 500 ports across the world.