KPA TAKEOVER

KTLN merger illegal, violates Coast people's economic rights

In Summary

• The coastal community has in the recent past suffered immensely from the illegal SGR deal, which has seen loss of livelihoods and impoverishment of communities.

• The community is indeed very disturbed that despite all these sufferings, the government is again proposing further punishment by taking away the port

The KPA headquarters
The KPA headquarters
Image: FILE

This week, an agreement was apparently entered into merging the Kenya Ports Authority, the Kenya Pipeline Company, the Industrial and Commercial Development Company and the now almost defunct Kenya Railways Cooperation.

This merger, which is commissioned under an Executive Order by the President, is intended to form the Kenya Transport and Logistics Network. For months now, this idea has been on the table but with no opportunity for neither the public nor stakeholders to present their views. It has only been mentioned in passing.

This week, the people from the Coast of Kenya spoke about the merger.

 

Various institutions came together, among them community based organisations, the business fraternity, women groups, transport sector players, religious and faith-based institutions, human rights defenders, youth associations, grassroot movements, persons living  with disabilities and civil society organisations, collectively and said no to the merger.

This is because it is clearly going to further impoverish local communities by killing the Coast and Kenya’s economy.

The merger is premised on a false and illegal deal that circumvents the law and bypasses Parliament by hiding behind executive orders to introduce substantial changes in state corporations, which are established by Acts of Parliament.

To cause such major shift in the management and operations of entities that contribute billions of shillings annually to the Exchequer without public participation or authorisation by Parliament is a clear indication that the intent or objective is suspect and must be demystified.

The coastal economy is established along two major economic activities – the port and tourism. This proposed merger will eventually mean the control of operations and management of the port will rest with KTLN (in effect the ICDC board).  The merger will also mean that the port’s managing director will be recruited and appointed by the ICDC. This means the port’s board will not be in control of the MD nor the management and the operations of the institution. The authority will therefore be silently transferred to the ICDC, which will become overall in charge.

The merger further means the port management and board will not have any powers to make any decision on investments, which now will rest on the ICDC board in Nairobi. Noting that the port is the most stable financially, this merger will mean it will subsidize the other partners in the merger, including KRC, which is owed billions in the SGR deal.

The port’s funds will no longer be used in port development and efficiency improvements to meet international competitive standards like other ports. Further, the port will merely turn into a department leading to downsizing and retrenchment.

 

It is worth noting further that the merger was done in secrecy and shrouded with mistrust. The Constitution provides in Article 10 that public participation on any such venture is mandatory. However, in this case, there has been zero public consultation and stakeholders have not in any way been involved, rendering the merger unconstitutional.

It is also fresh in Kenyans’ minds that the courts recently declared the SGR deal was procured illegally. Why the state is seeking to protect and preserve an illegal deal at the expense of other profit-making parastatals is puzzling and flabbergasting to say the least.

The coastal community has in the recent past suffered immensely from the illegal SGR deal, which has seen loss of livelihoods and impoverishment of communities. The community is indeed very disturbed that despite all these sufferings, the government is again proposing further punishment by taking away the port from serving and supporting coastal communities. Without the port ploughing back resources to the community, the people will have lost a major pillar of their economy and will lead to further disenfranchisement of their economic rights as guaranteed by the Constitution.

Coast communities have thus come out strongly to oppose this unconstitutional and illegal merger and demands it be withdrawn immediately pending consultations and negotiations with all stakeholders particularly the coastal people.

Failure to this, the communities have made clear their intentions to challenge the merger in court. The Coast people shall not relent until their economic rights are guaranteed.