1 March 2011

Kenya: Dock Workers Protest Planned Sale of KPA

Police yesterday used teargas to disperse hundreds of protesting dock workers who threatened to disrupt a workshop on the privatisation of the Kenya Ports Authority in Mombasa.

Led by the Dock Workers Union secretary general Simon Sang and nominated MP Sheikh Mohamed Dhor, the dock workers converged at the KPA's main gate where they were addressed by Sheikh Dhor and Sang before taking to the streets chanting anti-Transport minister Amos Kimunya slogans.

The protestors were blocked near the Casablanca Night Club on Moi Avenue where riot police threw teargas at them. They dispersed and converged later at the union offices on Jomo Kenyatta Avenue.

The workers demanded the sacking of Kimunya. Sheikh Dhor said there is need for proper consultations before the port is privatised. "This is an issue that affects the livelihoods of thousands of port workers and needs to be approached with sober minds," Sheikh Dhor said.

Reports indicated that one police officer was slightly injured after he was hit on the neck by a huge stick thrown by one of the protestors. At least three of the protesting workers were arrested by police and held at the Central police station. The three were Haji Musa, Khamis Musa and Paul Hunda.

Saboti MP Eugene Wamalwa and his Ganze counterpart Francis Baya later went to the police station to seek their release but were informed that they had already been released. "It is wrong for the police to arrest citizens who are just exercising their constitutional rights. Kenyans must reap and feel the fruits of the new constitution that allows freedom of expression and demonstrations so long as they are peaceful," Wamalwa said.

At the stakeholders workshop, Wamalwa and Baya demanded that the meeting be stopped to allow fresh and proper consultations. The protesting dock workers had planned to match from the KPA to the workshop at the beach Hotel, more than 15km away.

They said more than 4,500 jobs will be lost if th port is privatised.

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