Port Lease Politics Rock Mombasa
Nassir threatens to sever ties with the National government if Ruto’s administration continue with the plans
The politics of privatisation of the port of Mombasa have continued to dominate the airwaves in the coastal region for a third week in a row.
On Monday, Mombasa Governor Abdulswamad Nassir, his deputy Francis Thoya and Jomvu MP Badi Twalib took the Kenya Kwanza government head-on, saying they would not allow the port of Mombasa to be taken away.
Despite the Kenya Ports Authority chairman Benjamin Tayari clarifying that the port will not be privatised, the Coast leaders have continued to raise suspicion over the matter.
On Friday, after a joint board meeting between KPA and Kenya Revenue Authority, Tayari said they will enter into a concession agreement with private companies to manage critical facilities within the Ports of Mombasa and Lamu, but not privatise.
What we are doing is something called concession. There’s a very big difference between the privatisation and concession,” Tayari said.
Tayari said they will sit down with port stakeholders and leaders from the Coast region to discuss the issue at hand.
However, on Monday Nassir said they will not agree to be part of a conversation that will take away the port from the people of Mombasa.
“No one is refusing growth and development, but we will never be part and parcel of conversation that will sideline the people of Mombasa,” Nassir said.
He was speaking during the groundbreaking ceremony of the construction of the Mombasa County Aggregation and Industrial Park at Bonje in Jomvu.
The event was graced by Trade Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria.
Nassir dared to sever ties with the National government if President William Ruto’s administration continued with the plans for the Port of Mombasa.
“If we disagree and destroy relationships, then let it be. If we can agree, then we can work together the same way we have worked in this project of Mombasa Aggregation and Industrial Park,” he said.
KPA management advertised to invite private companies to bid to manage critical assets in Mombasa and Lamu ports.
The facilities that KPA intends to place under the private firms’ management are four berths (11-14) at the Port of Mombasa and the Mombasa Port Container Terminal 1.
At Lamu Port, KPA will hand over the three container terminals at Lamu Port berths 1-3 and the Lamu Special Economic Zone.
Twalib said the port of Mombasa will not be privatised without the involvement of the people and leaders of Mombasa.
“We will not agree to sell the port. Narok gets money from Maasai Mara Park, and Taita Taveta will soon benefit from Tsavo. What wrong did the Mombasa people do, not to benefit from the port of Mombasa? he posed.
Thoya said they will fight for what is rightfully for the Mombasa people.
“We want to know what is our share as people of Mombasa at the port,” he said.
Kuria downplayed the talks, saying there would be no development in Mombasa without the involvement of the local leadership.
However, he did not directly speak on the issue of the port.
“I have agreed with you all that the government has to involve the local leadership in making decisions for all the issues affecting this region,” Kuria said.
He said for a very long time successive governments have been sidelining the coastal region and imposing projects on them that they will not benefit from.
“We (Kenya Kwanza government), will not impose the projects on you, we will ask for your input to know what ails you before we give out a prescription,” Kuria said.
“We are here to talk to you leaders, and were it not for cooperation, today’s project would not have been successful. I want to give you assurance that
President Ruto loves Mombasa very much.”
He said the Sh500 million Mombasa County Aggregation and Industrial Park at Bonje in Jomvu will be managed by Nassir’s administration.
“Mombasa county will be in charge of this project. If the youth miss out on job opportunities, the governor should be able to answer. The county has authority and ownership of this project,” he said.
This project at Bonje is expected to employ over 30,000 people.