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Shipping & Logistics

Firms fear loss of jobs, investments after agencies ordered to quit port

Fertiliser MOMBASA PORT
Fertiliser being offloaded from a ship onto a trailer at the port. Some port-based firms are to be evicted. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NMG 

Some companies contracted by State agencies to carry out services on their behalf at the Port of Mombasa and at the inland container depot (ICD) in Nairobi fear massive job losses after the government ordered some of the agencies move out.

Investment amounting to millions of shillings could also go to waste, a development that prompted some of the firms to write to the agencies seeking clarification over the future of their business at the facilities.

Already some firms that were contracted by the Kenya Radiation Protection Board (KRPB) to analyse cargo at the port and at the ICD in terms of radiation safety have written to the CEO of the Board seeking clarification on the matter.

The KRPB is among the more than 20 agencies that have been operating at the port.

In a letter dated June 14 and directed to the KRPB CEO, the service providers notified the organisation of their fear of redundancies of thousands of jobs apart from the millions they might lose for their machines they purchased to carry their duties.

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“Following the government circular dated June 4, 2019 ref No OP/CAB 9/83A, operationalisation and improvement of cargo logistics at the ports of entry and Inland Container Depots, we seek clarification on the matter,” said part of the letter seen by the Business Daily.

In the letter, the service providers said they have the right to information as per the Constitution with regard to details of eviction from the port.

The radiation assessors said in their letter said their removal from the port would affect about 100 youths who benefit directly from the jobs and more than 1,000 Kenyans who benefit indirectly.

“Technical Service Providers(TSPs) have invested heavily on radiation equipment and we are now asking the government through the KRPB where to take this scientific equipment which were bought through bank loans and lending institutions,” said the letter.

“As technical personnel with knowledge of the dangers caused by radiation, the prevalence of cancer is a nightmare to many,” the providers added.

The providers said a more considerate approach is required to keep the KRPB at the port with the three leading agency categories.

“Based on the reasons and many others, we request the KRPB to urgently clarify to us whether the radiation safety assessment services will continue to be offered at the ports of entry/ICD-N,” the letter concluded.

When contacted on the issue, KRPB CEO Joseph Maina said he would comment only after consulting with his board.

“This is a government directive and I cannot comment before consulting with the entire board. Email the questions you would like us to respond to and I will get back to you,” he said on the telephone.

A memo sent from State House on June 4 removed more than 20 agencies from the ports. Major agencies with restricted access to cargo clearance include the National Intelligence Service, the Directorate of Criminal Investigation, the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services and the Anti-Counterfeit Agency.

The memo first grouped the agencies into five categories with only Immigration, Port Health and Port Security Office, the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) and the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) allowed full access.

Others have to seek authority to enter the ports by filling in an accountability form with the name of the officer to be allowed into the port areas, a move said to be opposed by those affected.

The third category include the NIS, the DCI and Kephis.

From the new port operations structure, Kebs and the KRA will remain the most critical agencies in handling cargo, a move that is expected to save importers the lengthy clearance process that was driven by the presence of several agencies within the port.

A service provider who sought anonymity said if they are removed from the port, then the safety of goods cleared at the port of Mombasa will not be guaranteed.

“We have for the last four years, intercepted some vehicles from Japan that had high levels of radiations and managed to send them back to Japan. Now suppose we will not be there, how will that happen?” said the source.

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