Coast leaders divided on privatisation of container terminal

Some back the plan they say will create jobs, but others think the process is illegal

In Summary

• Some 16 legislators broke ranks with the others and attended Monday's commissioning of Bandari Maritime Academy by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

• MPs Nassir and Mbogo have been at the forefront in opposing the handover of the CT2 to the Kenyan National Shipping Line.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho at Bandari Maritime Academy on Monday.
President Uhuru Kenyatta and Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho at Bandari Maritime Academy on Monday.

Members of Parliament from the Coast are divided over the planned privatisation the second container terminal. 

Sixteen legislators no Monday broke ranks with their colleagues and attended the commissioning of Bandari Maritime Academy that was presided over by Presidet Uhuru Kenyatta.

The leaders appear headed for another major rift and unity among them remains elusive. 

Sources said the MPs had a meeting on Saturday and they agreed to skip Uhuru's event as a protest against the privatisation of CT2.

Host MP Abdulswamad Nassir of Mvita did not attend the event alongside his Kisauni counterpart Ali Mbogo. The two have been the main opponents of the privatisation plan. 

Nassir yesterday denied there was a meeting held by Coast MPs over the CT2. He told the Star that he was not around on Monday because he was attending to personal issues.

“There was no such meeting. If there was, I was not part of it. Whether I would have gone or not if I was around is another issue,” Nassir said on the phone.

A Mombasa politician privy to the meeting told the Star that the meeting was held.  He, however, declined to name the MPs who attended.

“Yes, there was a meeting,” he told the Star.

MPs who attended the commissioning of the academy included Badi Twalib (Jomvu), Omar Mwinyi (Changamwe), Mishi Mboko (Likoni), and Asha Hussein (Mombasa county).

Others were Getrude Mbeyu (Kilifi county), Ken Chonga (Kilifi South), William Kamoti (Rabai), Teddy Mwambire (Ganze), Jones Mlolwa (Voi), Danson Mwashako (Wundanyi), Ruweida Obo (Lamu county), Naomi Shaban (Taveta), and Lydia Haika (Taita Taveta county). 

Three governors Mombasa’s Hassan Joho, Kwale’s Salim Mvurya and Lamu’s Fahim Twaha were at the function. Senators Mohamed Faki (Mombasa), Issa Juma Boy (Kwale) and Anwar Loitiptip (Lamu) also attended.

Nassir, Mbogo and Nyali’s Mohammed Ali skipped the function. Most of the MPs who attended the event are pro-Joho.

Joho said he supports the government’s plan because  Coast youth stand to benefit the most.

“As a people, we will always have issues. But the right way to address those issues is to speak to one another,” Joho said.

He said the era of talking at each other is gone and people are now talking to each other.  The governor said the only thing they will make noise about is the fight against corruption and the struggle to unite Kenyans.

Joho told Uhuru that whenever there is an issue about leadership or development, he will lead leaders from the Coast region in seeking audience with him.

“When we have a problem, let us talk so that we look for an amicable solution and move forward,” Joho said.

Nassir and Mbogo have been at the forefront in opposing the handover of the CT2 to the Kenyan National Shipping Line.

KNSL is 53 per cent owned by the government through Kenya Ports Authority and 47 per cent owned by the Swiss registered Mediterranean Shipping Company.

Nassir and Mbogo, alongside the Dock Workers Union, have questioned the process through which the deal was sealed. they say it is illegal since there was no public participation, and the deal is shrouded in secrecy.

Last week, Coast MPs held a press conference at Parliament Buildings to protest the passing of the amendments to the Merchant Shipping Act that cleared the way for the deal between the MSC, the KNSL and the Kenya Ports Authority.

There is fear that the move by the government will lead to at least 4,000 job losses. Dock Workers Union general secretary Simon Sang and Muslims for Human Rights lobby have also expressed fear that the move will set a precedent for ignoring of constitutional provision of public participation on decision making.

Muhuri will tomorrow move to court to challenge Monday’s move by the government to hand the running of the CT2 to KNSL and MSC.

Uhuru on Monday thanked MPs for passing legislation to support the revival of the KNSL.

“Your continued support, for which we are grateful, is critical in ensuring that our country achieves its dream of becoming a strong maritime economy,” Uhuru said. 

During a press conference at Parliament Buildings last Wednesday, Mbogo said, “The way the process has been done is not acceptable to us as members from that (Coast) region.”

MP Twalib said he attended the commissioning of the academy because he was invited by the President and he could not disappoint him.

He said sideshows will not develop the region. “Tell me, what would our not attending the function change?” Twalib asked.

He, however, said he was not aware of any prior meeting about the CT2.

Kaloleni’s Paul Katana said he supports the project because it will provide job opportunities for Coast youth.

“If there are other issues, people can always sit down and discuss. If people are getting jobs, why should we oppose? The only way forward is through consultations,” he said.

The Kaloleni MP said the region needs unity for it to develop at a faster rate.

“We should not be talking about each other. We should be talking to each other. This is the only way we can solve our problems," Katana said.

Mwambire said Coast region needs to be united in development.

He said he was not aware of any meeting called for the region’s MPs to talk about the CT2 before the Monday’s event.

“We always have our own platform where these issues are discussed or where information is passed. There was no such information,” he said.

He said different leaders have their own different reason for not attending functions.