JUBILEE ECONOMIC TRANSGRESSIONS

KHALID: Coast will only elect leaders who will revive port business

Through ill-informed and discriminative policies, port operations have been moved to the inland depot

In Summary

• The Ministry of Transport in particular has in the last few years single handedly brought the Coast economy to its knees.

• The ministry has rendered hundreds of thousands of families at the Coast destitute and desperate.

Containers at the Port of Mombasa's Second Container Terminal/
Containers at the Port of Mombasa's Second Container Terminal/
Image: CHARLES MGHENYI

The elections period is here with us again. It’s that time when politicians come pretending they care about the people.

In search of votes, they will try to hoodwink the public and lie that they will save the nation from anarchy, which they created in the first place.

Politicians will look for favors and present themselves as servants of the people. They will do rallies and promise heaven on earth.

In search of votes, they will commit to address all the problems in the shortest imaginable time possible. It will all be lies.

Besides the presidency, more than half of the governors have served two terms and are no longer eligible for re-election. They will go home with President Uhuru Kenyatta.

The governorship is perhaps the most highly contested seat due to the billions of shillings the holder of the position will control.

The ward rep is also highly contested seat, also because of the hundreds of millions the holder will control. Senator, woman representative and MCA are the other positions up for grabs.

For the Coast specifically, in the last five years, the economy has witnessed its worst deterioration since independence. Never before has the situation been this appalling.

Poverty levels have risen alarmingly as cost of living and prices of commodities have shot up sharply. Unemployment is at an all time high and many businesses have closed down. The effects of the economic downfall, including insecurity, are clear for all to see. Yet there is no respite in the offing. If anything, the situation gets worse by the day.

The sad part of this scenario is that the prevailing situation was intentionally created by bad policies and unfair economic practices implemented by the national government with local leaders not doing enough to stop the downward spiral of the coastal economy.

The Ministry of Transport in particular has in the last few years single handedly brought the Coast economy to its knees. The ministry has rendered hundreds of thousands of families at the Coast destitute and desperate.

Since time immemorial, even before the scramble for Africa in the 19th century that mapped out present day Kenya, communities at the Coast were heavily dependent on the port for their livelihood.

Through the colonial period, port operations remained the backbone of the Coast economy and saw the railway line first being constructed from the Coast to allow imports and exports in and out of Kenya.

Post independence, nothing much changed as communities became dependent on Kenya Ports Authority operations.

However, under the current regime, through ill-informed and discriminative policies, operations of the port have been moved to the inland depot. This means many clearing and forwarding agents, transport companies, mechanics and petrol stations that operated and served port handlers at the Coast have been forced to close down.

Even spare parts shops and “Mama Ntilies” who sold food to drivers and turnboys of trucks are no longer in a position to operate. They can no longer afford to put food on the table.

Life for Coastal people has been turned upside down.

As politicians now campaign, the coastal people know very well what they want done – reversal of the economic transgressions committed in the last few years by the Jubilee regime.

The communities want their economic lifeline back. They want the hustle and bustle that was once Mombasa, Malindi, Voi, Kwale and other coastal towns returned. They want the unfair policies that oppress the Coast people overturned.

In short, they want port operations restored to their original status at the Coast so that businesses can thrive again, employment created and lives of the people rebuilt.

Any leader seeking support in the Coast must commit to restore the stolen economy and bring back the shine and verve that was Coast. Through the leadership of social justice leaders Salim Karama and Harriet Muganda of Fast Action Movement, residents will unite and only vote for politicians who commit to reconstruct their economy. Anything less than that will be unacceptable.

Coast residents are Kenyans and in this election, they will be heard.