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Job loss fears amid threat of staff changes at port

The managing director Kenya Ports Authority Catherine Wairi (left) with Transport PS Prof Paul Maringa and CS James Macharia March 1, 2018. Photo | Laban Walloga | NMG
The managing director Kenya Ports Authority Catherine Wairi (left) with Transport PS Prof Paul Maringa (centre) and CS James Macharia March 1, 2018. Photo | Laban Walloga | NMG 

The State's plan to streamline management at the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) with more major staff changes has left dock workers in fear of looming job losses.

However, although KPA chairman Marsden Madoka hinted at more changes at East Africa’s largest port, he has distanced the Authority's management from responsibility.

“Ask the owners and transporters...we have got nothing to do with it. We are busy at the port loading cargo through SGR (Standard Gauge Railway) and everything is going on smoothly and efficiently,” Mr Madoka said in a phone interview Tuesday.

A section of unionisable employees fear they might be rendered jobless due to the government's insistence that importers transport their cargo via rail.

Last week, Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia announced the State's plan to streamline management of the harbour to ensure goods are efficiently transported through the SGR.

Senior officials of the 7,000-member Dock Workers Union are now afraid that there will be massive loss of employment if the government implements the directive.

“We have over 10,000 users who rely on the port including transporters, Container Freight Stations, clearing agents among others. If the government forces the traders to use SGR, it means some dockers will be rendered jobless including clerks, drivers, mechanics and cargo handlers. This will kill Mombasa's economy,” said a union official who sought anonymity due to sensitivity of the matter.

Last week, the government effected major changes at the harbour affecting 14 out of the 16 senior managers.

Those transferred to Kisumu Port are yet to take up their new positions as they are awaiting handing over to newly appointed officials.

“You know there is a process and we are looking at it. Everything has to be properly done. Who knows, there might be more changes,” Mr Madoka said.

Mr Macharia said the government has resolved to break down cartels entrenched at the harbour for many years.

“Last year we had few challenges for many reasons. But we have to prepare for the future we must have an efficient port. We are competing with other ports if we do not reposition in terms of how we manage this port we shall be overtaken,” The CS said.

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