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Economy

Joho threatens to sue State, alleges plot to shift port services to Naivasha

Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho at the Mombasa Law Courts on January 31, 2018. Photo | Kevin Odit | NMG
Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho at the Mombasa Law Courts on January 31, 2018. Photo | Kevin Odit | NMG 

Governor Hassan Joho says he will take the national government to court over ‘transfer of port services’ from Mombasa to Naivasha, a move he reckons will cripple the tourism hub.

Coast politicians led by Mr Joho claim the government wants to shift port services from the city to Naivasha in Nakuru County.

According to the county boss, it is now mandatory for certain cargo to be transported through the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), thus ‘killing’ transporters' businesses.

“When I told you that the port services are being shifted, you made mockery out of it and you laughed at me. But you will not stop me from saying you are now implementing it, I am even contemplating going to court,” Mr Joho told Mombasa residents Wednesday.

Speaking during the launch of a maternity theatre at Tudor sub-county hospital, Mr Joho claimed the youths who were working in the clearing and forwarding sector are now being sacked as transporters lose work.

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“How can a government compete with its own people? You are supposed to facilitate so that citizenry can prosper. But we have a situation where people are being undermined. We won’t stop speaking our mind due to fears of being denied certain favours because life, wealth and leadership is God given, no one can take it from you,” he said.

Mr Joho also hit out at the SGR, saying it is a noble project but that it was wrongly implemented.

“How do you take a Sh400 billion loan to be paid over 10 years. The government should have given a concession through public private partnership. How will you repay the loans? It will cost us as a country and a region,” he added.

Defend democracy

He also urged Kenyans to defend the Constitution, constitutionalism and democracy.

“Hate me as much as you want but allow me my space to express my opinion. If I think you are wrong, I must be able to tell you, you are wrong. You have an opportunity to say you are right and I won’t stop you,” he said.

On Sunday, Industrialisation and Enterprise Development Cabinet Secretary, Adan Mohammed, was asked to explain the impact of the Naivasha inland port to the port of Mombasa.

Parliamentary committee on Trade, Industry and Cooperatives vice chairperson, Cornelly Serem, told Mr Mohammed to tell Mombasa residents specifically why the government is building a dry port in Naivasha.

Mr Serem, who is also the Aldai MP, asked the CS to assure people at the Coast that the Naivasha port will not kill the Mombasa port.

“We don’t want speculation or a situation that we are creating business for the people of Naivasha at the same time destroying the port in Mombasa. There are concerns that there is political alienation that since the residents are not part of Jubilee government the port is moved to Naivasha because…let me not conclude,” Mr Serem said amid claps from some of his colleagues.

Speaking during the committee’s induction retreat at Serena Beach Resort and Spa in Mombasa, the CS insisted that the government is building a dry port in Naivasha due to access to the clean renewable energy and infrastructure.

With freight trains haul 216 containers or 4,000 tonnes daily from Mombasa port, there have been fears that little cargo will be left for CFSs.

According to Kenya Railways managing director, Atanas Maina, the railway will be extended to cover all the container berths at the port, meaning that cargo will be offloaded from the ship onto the wagons and delivered to the expanded Nairobi Inland Container Depot within eight hours.

Cargo shortfall

Freight trains started ferrying cargo on January 1 when a full load of 216 containers were transported to Nairobi. The following two days, the trains were faced with cargo deficit, forcing KR to delay haulage until enough load was realised.

KR started by charging Sh50,000 per twenty foot container with importers having to incur an extra Sh15,000 to shift their goods to the door-step in the last mile transport. Truckers charge between Sh65,000 and Sh80,000 for the same load.

But two weeks ago, Mr Maina announced reduction of the rates from Sh50,000 for the twenty foot container to Sh35,000, sending the CFS owners into a spin.

“This now is crazy and we will have to go back to the drawing board because importers are excited by these rates,” said one operator who declined to be named.

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