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Privatisation of second container terminal flops

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[Dock workers Secretary general Simon Sang (L) with MUHURI Executive director Hassan Abdille (R). Photo/Ahmed Omar].

A proposal to amend the law and allow privatisation of the second container terminal (CT2) at Mombasa port has been defeated.

The Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendment) Bill, 2019, by Majority Leader Aden Duale would have given the Transport Cabinet Secretary powers to exempt a government entity or enterprise from adhering to provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act, 2009.

By doing this, the Transport CS would have had powers to engage any shipping company to deliver the objects of CT2 takeover.

The government fronted the Kenya National Shipping Line (KNSL) to run CT2. KNSL’s 47 per cent stake is under a private Italian firm, Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC). The Kenya Ports Authority owns the rest.

Job loss

At least 4,000 jobs were at stake if the MSC through KNSL was to be handed over the operation of CT2. The terminal makes Sh19 billion profit a year. MCS was to take Sh17 billion and pay the government a paltry Sh2 billion.

MUHURI intervened

However, Muslims for Human Rights-MUHURI, Coast MPs, and the Public Investment Committee (PIC) opposed the plan.

PIC, led by Mvita MP Abdulswamad Shariff Nassir, introduced an amendment to the Merchant Shipping Act. The adjustments only allowed a wholly government-owned KNSL or any other shipping line to operate CT2.

The National Assembly on Thursday voted in favor of PIC amendment, consequently stopping the privatisation of the CT2. The amendment now awaits assent into law.

“MUHURI played a critical role to stop the privatisation. We are happy our efforts paid through,” said MUHURI director Hassan Abdille.

On April 29, plans to defeated privatisation efforts were discussed in a meeting that was attended by 11 Coast MP’s.

The human rights lobby together with Dock Workers Union were planning a suit against efforts by the government to privatise CT2.

“If the President signs the PIC amendment into law, Kenya will own ships and engage seafarer without necessarily giving out the port to a foreign entity by sale or lease,” added Mr. Abdille.