Coast MPs differ over port privatisation plan

Nassir and Mwinyi say proposal is like the SGR and will lead to job losses

In Summary

- Lunga Lunga MP Khatib Mwashetani and Lamu woman representative Ruweida Mohamed said so far they have seen or heard nothing that suggests there is a planned privatization of the terminal.

- Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir said the government is working behind the scenes to sell off the Sh27 billion second container terminal, codenamed CT2.

The Port of Mombasa
The Port of Mombasa

Coast MPs have differed on the planned privatisation of the second container terminal at the Mombasa port.

One group led by Mvita lawmaker Abdulswamad Nassir and Changamwe's Omar Mwinyi has opposed the plans. The other group including Lunga Lunga MP Khatib Mwashetani and Lamu Woman Representative Ruweida Mohamed called for caution, saying talks were still ongoing.

Nassir said the government was working behind the scenes to sell the Sh27 billion second container terminal, codenamed CT2.

He said the Kenya Merchant Shipping Act bars shipping lines like the Kenya National Shipping Line from operating terminals.

“As it stands right now, the negotiations that are ongoing are illegal because that law has not been changed,” Nassir said.

He spoke on Saturday at a meeting with dock workers at the Mombasa Women Hall. Dock Workers Union secretary general Simon Sang was present.

Mwinyi said the privatisation plan was like SGR, which he said has led to loss of businesses for transporters.

“The SGR has taken all clearing and forwarding businesses in Mombasa leaving tens of thousands of residents jobless. The SGR opened our eyes. We will not allow such a project again,” Mwinyi said.

But Mwashetani and Ruweida said they have neither seen nor heard anything suggesting there was a plan to privatise the terminal.

“We are still in the process of talking to different stakeholders so we know exactly what is going on,” Mwashetani said.

“We have not seen any proof that this port is being privatised. Maybe they are doing it under the radar,” Ruweida said.

Nassir, Mwinyi and Kaloleni MP Paul Katana called for more stakeholder engagement. “As leaders, we will discuss this matter more before coming up with a stand,” Katana said.

He said the KNSL has not benefitted anyone since it was established 20 years ago.

“This corporation is like a patient in ICU. How can this patient be able to donate blood to someone who is not sick? Katana asked.

Katana asked the government to privatise loss-making parastatals and not those making profits like the Mombasa port.

Kinango MP Benjamin Tayari said they will not support plans that will negatively affect residents.

Sang said over 4,000 workers would lose their jobs if the CT2 was privatised.

He said there was no direct link between privatisation of the CT2 and the blue economy. “We have agreed that we will deal with these two issues separately. We have also agreed with the legislators to engage professionals on this matter,” Sang said.

Sang urged the MPs to oppose amendments to the Merchant Shipping Act.

Proposed amendments will give Transport CS powers to decide who should run the CT2, a move dock workers fear could hand over the facility to the Italian firm MSC. The firm currently holds about 33 per cent of the shares at the facility.

After the meeting with the dock workers, the MPs went to meet the blue economy committee set up by President Uhuru Kenyatta. They are expected to call for a meeting between the committee and the dock workers after 10 days.

Edited by Peter Obuya