A move by Kenya Ports Authority to source for manpower service providers for the provision of labour has caused panic at the parastatal. The move is interpreted as aimed at ‘testing waters’ ahead of the envisaged retrenchment.
“Kenya Ports Authority has a target of 100pc verification of containers. The authority seeks for provision of manpower services from vendors to provide the services at the port of Mombasa and Inland Container Depot, Nairobi as and when need arises,” KPA says in tender number KPA/106/2018-19/MO states.
The contract shall be for a period of three years and the service provider will be expected to work closely with the general manager operations, Captain William Ruto.
There are speculations that the multimillion shillings tender will be awarded to a firm belonging to a top politician. Questions are being raised as to why the intended verification cannot be undertaken by port employees.
Meanwhile, the multibillion shillings Mombasa port’s second container terminal is up for grabs. This is after it emerged that the government wants to remove it from the management of KPA and hand it over to a private operator.
A dozen of international port operators are keen to land the lucrative contract. However, the ministry of transport wants the moribund Kenya National Shipping Line picked to run the container terminal.
Sources have revealed that even though it is common knowledge that the state owned KNSL has no capacity to efficiently manage such a huge contract, the plan by the parent ministry mandarins was reportedly to use KNSL to win the contract and then subcontract operations to a third party, a move that is aimed at creating avenues for kickbacks, it has been disclosed.
Surprisingly, is also the fact that the ministry of transport wants to push on with the deal without involvement of industry players, other stakeholders and the parliamentary approval yet the intended privatisation of KPA operations at the second container terminal is a matter that will have serious ramifications on the economy.
Global port operators who include Dubai World, Chinese group PSA International in partnership with a local group Multiple Hauliers, Cosco Pacific and Paramount Bank of Singapore, Signon Group of Kenya connected with the Moi family are among other operators who had shown interest when the tender was made public.
Brokers for KNSL and those for Dubai World are said to be the most vicious. To win the government’s favour, Dubai World through United Arab Emirates has offered to lend Kenya billions of shillings in exchange for the second container terminal contract.
Analysts have cautioned that given that ports are the means by which contraband, ranging from drugs, ivory, guns and stolen vehicles are brought in and taken out to the world, it would be dangerous to hurry the privatisation process.
At the same time, the giant dockworkers union has waded into the issue and warned the government against handing over the second container terminal to KNSL, saying the move is misinformed.
Among other things, the union says the KNSL lacks the capacity to operate as a terminal operator and also the move lacks legal backing.
***Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni is expected in the country this week where he will tour the Kenya Ports Authority as his country seeks to continue exporting and importing its commodities through the Mombasa port.
His visits comes days after Rwanda President Paul Kagame visited Tanzania where the two governments discussed the fast-tracking of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) from Isaka to Kigali.
Rwanda plans to use the Dar port to import most of its commodities following hostility with its neighbour, Uganda.
In the past Rwanda has been depending for much of its imports on a trade route through Uganda to Kenya’s Indian Ocean port of Mombasa.
But the country is now exploring the use of alternative trade routes and corridors such as Central Corridor via Tanzania.
The Ugandan media also published a letter written by Museveni to Kagame on March 10, explaining that he had met officials of the foreign-based Rwanda rebel group, Rwanda National Congress (RNC).
In the letter, Museveni said he had accidentally met RNC’s Charlotte Mukankusi, who sought support for her rebel group.
At the heart of the ongoing conflict are accusations by Rwanda that Uganda is supporting dissidents against Kagame’s government, harassing its citizens and sabotaging Rwandan goods transiting through Uganda