EDITORIAL

Mombasa container port should go out to tender

In Summary

• The new terminal needs to operate to international standards.

• Cabinet has proposed that Kenya Ports Authority surrender the terminal to the loss-making KNSL in a similar deal to Kenya Airways and JKIA.

Containers being parked at the Second Container Terminal at the port of Mombasa.
Containers being parked at the Second Container Terminal at the port of Mombasa.
Image: CHARLES MGHENYI

MPs are interrogating a proposal for the Kenya National Shipping Line to take over the Sh30 billion container terminal at Mombasa port.

Cabinet has proposed that Kenya Ports Authority surrender the terminal to the loss-making KNSL in a similar deal to Kenya Airways and JKIA.

But there is a fundamental difference. Everyone agrees that KQ is a strategic asset for Kenya. It brings in tourists and businesspeople to Nairobi which is now an aviation hub. If KQ died, we would all suffer.

On the other hand, if KNSL died, no-one would notice. Kenya does not need a national shipping line. Private shipping companies function perfectly well.

An Italian company, the Mediterranean Shipping Company, owns 20 per cent of KNSL and would commercially benefit from a sweetheart deal with KPA and the government.

We want Mombasa port to be world class, as efficient as possible. If KPA wants to contract out management of the container terminal, it should be internationally tendered out.

It can tender but it is doubtful whether the loss-making KNSL can compete on expertise and resources with the giant international port management companies.

Quote of the day: "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."

Martin Luther King
The American civil rights leader was assassinated on April 4 , 1968