The giant Dock Workers Union (DWU) says they will oppose any attempt to privatize the second container terminal at the port of Mombasa.
The DWU officials led by the Secretary General (SG), Simon Sang contend that the privatization effort is shrouded in mystery and is being pushed under the guise of promoting the lucrative blue economy.
The Blue economy concept is the sustainable use of marine resources for economic growth, to improve livelihoods and create jobs while preserving the health of the ocean ecosystem.
The union officials held a press conference in Mombasa at their Makuli Fagia headquarters where they condemned privatization efforts by the Kenya National Shipping Line (KNSL) in collaboration with Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC).
They said privatization is not the only option of addressing port inefficiency and wondered why port authorities were reluctant to roll out performance contracting for workers.
Sang observed that privatizing the second container terminal that gobbled up Sh.27 billion in investment will cause reduction of employment by over 50 per cent.
“As a union we forecast that in the event of privatization, over 4,000 port employees are to be rendered jobless,” he said.
He went on: “privatization of the port is a big matter comparable to a national referendum as it amounts to transferring of public resource into private hands”.
Sang said the second container terminal is one of the most modern port facilities in Africa capable of handling a million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) and should not be left in the hands of investors.
He said it is possible to introduce a private company to run the facility and after one year they will enter into a concession with other shipping lines and take over the entire business in the port of Mombasa including the conventional cargo handling berths.
The Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) has in the past denied claims by the dock workers union that the second container terminal is being denationalized and that it’s KPA that is running the terminal.
One of the conditions for funding the Sh.27 billion three-phase terminal by the Japanese government was that it would be operated privately setting the giant DWU on a collision course with KPA, citing likelihood of massive job losses.
By Hussein Abdullahi