TWO major container depots associated with Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho’s family have been closed amid reports they were linked to smuggling of multimillion-shilling goods.
The Portside and Autoport Container Freight stations were shut down yesterday, following an executive directive by President Uhuru Kenyatta, who oversaw the destruction of illicit rice, ethanol and sugar last week allegedly cleared by the CFSs.
The Joho family is however on record saying the containers did not belong to them, and that they were owned by an importer, their client.
Uhuru, during the destruction of the consignment, ordered the arrest and prosecution of the culprits.
Yesterday morning, hundreds of trucks at the two CFSs and at the Kenya Ports Authority yard were stuck after the Kenya Revenue Authority locked the gates with their seals.
Msambweni MP Suleiman Dor was among clients and importers caught up in the drama after he failed to release his Mitsubishi Pajero vehicle at one of the CFSs.
Dozens of workers staged a protest at the CFSs, asking the government to intervene.
Two letters dated January 21 this year from KPA to one of the directors each of Portside, Hamid Salim Sadru and Autoport, Khamis Hamid Khamis, indicated that the nomination (the overseas buyer’s choice of carrier) of containers in the CFSs has been suspended.
The terse statement from KPA MD Gichiri Ndua indicated this move had “immediate effect”.
One of the directors of the CFSs, a brother of Governor Joho’s, prominent businessman Abubakar Joho, told the Star that no explanation has been issued by KPA, and accused the authority of failing to follow the Nomination Act.
“Portside has been in existence for the last 10 years and Autoport is one-and-a-half years old, we have engaged in legitimate business,” said the soft-spoken Abubakar.
The two company directors moved to court and obtained orders on Monday the 25th, prohibiting KPA from continuing with the further suspension of the nomination of containers in the CFSs.
Justice Dorah Chepkwony granted the order, to operate as a stay, saying the case should be mentioned in 21 days’ time.
The CFSs Association of Kenya also wrote to Ndua on their members’ suspension.