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Dock workers opposed to privatization of port facilities

In a rare show of unity, officials of the giant Dockworkers Union (DWU) said they are not ready to sit back and watch as the operations of the port of Mombasa are handed over to a few private investors in the country.

The  DWU Secretary General, Simon Sang on Wednesday demanded the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) to cancel a tender awarded to a firm associated with a Mombasa legislator.

Sang said they are opposed to privatization of port facilities and labour.

He pointed out it is a conflict of interest to allow a lawmaker who chairs a national assembly watchdog committee to invest at the port of Mombasa.

He said the same firm associated with the Mombasa legislator was awarded a tender to conduct verification of goods and cargo at the inland container depot (ICD) in Nairobi.

Speaking at a press conference in Mombasa, Sang said the firm has a contract to hire labour at the Port of Mombasa, the Nairobi ICD and at the Lamu Port.

The DWU secretary general insisted the awarding of the tender to the lawmaker is the highest form of corruption at the port and should be condemned.

Sang who was accompanied by union chairman Mohamed Sheria told journalists they are being taken in circles in regard to port privatization issues.

He added that the operations at one of the berths within the port have already been privatized and the tender given to a politically correct individual in the county.

“The loading and offloading of imported fertilizer at berth numbers 4 and 7 has already been awarded to a politically connected tycoon in the county” he said.

He said the tycoon has come up with structures to centralize imported fertilizer at one place at the port.

Sang cautioned the government they won’t agree 75 per cent of the port operations to be in the hands of cartels.

He reiterated they won’t allow the transfer of port resources to be transferred to private ownership.

Sang said the berths should remain common user facilities rendering services to all customers.

But a KPA statement to journalists assured stakeholders that berths number 4 and 7 have not been transferred to any private ownership.

“The berths has not been transferred but what was leased out was sheds number 7 and 8 to a private operator” read the KPA statement circulated through email by the corporate affairs department.

The statement further stated that the allegations that a private firm is using 75 percent of KPA resources is misleading as the charges are only for striping, stuffing and re-stuffing of goods inside the targeted container, subject to client request.

By  Hussein Abdullahi

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