Kenya plans fresh port tender after abortive first bid

Containers at the Port of Mombasa. file photo | nmg
Containers at the Port of Mombasa. file photo | nmg 

Kenya will issue a fresh tender for a private operator to run the second container terminal at the port of Mombasa after the initial search was hit by tendering fights and irregularities.

Treasury secretary Henry Rotich yesterday said the State will seek a concessionaire to operate the first phase of the second terminal completed last year to handle increased cargo traffic within the east Africa region.

Dubai-based ports operator DP World was in pole position to bag the tender as part of a loan deal inked between Kenya and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), triggering protests from rival firms seeking the lucrative tenders.

But the government denied it was favouring DP World, which is owned by the government of Dubai, in the search that had attracted 12 companies.

“We have cancelled the process and we are now exploring other ways of getting a new operator. As you know the first attempt was coupled with claims and complaints so we will have to redo it,”Mr Rotich said.

It had been alleged that Kenya will offer DP World the deal in exchange for $275 (Sh28.5 billion) million concessionary loan from the United Arab Emirates.

The second container terminal, which is 900 metres long with three docking berths, was opened in April 2016, and provides an additional cargo-handling capacity of 550,000 twenty-foot containers per year.

It is now being operated by the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA), but the State wants a private operator to boost efficiencies at the port that is the region’s trade gateway, handles fuel and consumer goods imports as well as exports of tea and coffee for landlocked neighbours such as Uganda and South Sudan.

The port handled 27.36 million tonnes of cargo last year, up from 26.73 million tonnes in 2015.

Yesterday, Japanese Ambassador to Kenya Toshitsugu Uesawa said his country will be happy to participate in another bid to run the port.

“Mombasa port is a key economic gateway for Kenya and we put a lot of importance on the port for Kenya. Of course my government will be interested to play a role in the port operation but that is completely for the Kenya government to decide,” Mr Uesawa said.