5 January 2013

Kenya: Dockers Oppose Plans for Port Privatisation

The Dock Workers Union has reacted angrily to reports in which they are said to have endorsed plans to privatize the Mombasa port. DWU vice chairman Michael Kituku said the Kenya Ports Authority has been making profit and therefore there is no room for privatization.

"Our position as far as the privatization of the KPA still remains the same. We have said we are not ready for privatization of that facility," said Kituku.

He linked the privatization plans to politics in which he said a few individuals want to benefit.

"Today is 2013, an electioneering year. If someone wants to sneak in this thing, that is a long gone era," said the vice chair. He said workers will continue to work as usual. At the same time, DWU general secretary Simon Sang warned against transferring the free port facility from Dongo Kundu to the Lamu port.

He said the Lamu Port-Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (Lapset) proposal actually transfers Dongo Kundu free port facility to Lamu port.

"We are aware that the government and KPA are dilly-dallying in the building those facilities at Dongo Kundu so that they pave way for the Lamu port to build the same," said Sang. He claimed some individuals in government are responsible for the said transfer plans.

He said DWU will still have a say in the Lamu port as soon as it is opened. He said having the free port facility in Mombasa county is the only way to preserve the resources in the county. He said the county is being sustained the port. Sang said they have no issues with investors who are ready to invest in the free port facility of Dongo Kundu because all free port facilities in the world are funded by private investors.

"It is only the front side of the free port facility that is normally co-owned by the port authority and that free port facility," said Sang at a press conference in the union's offices on Thursday evening. He said the three main stakeholders including the DWU, the government and the local community through economic specialists can come up with a way of facilitating the investment in the event that the government and the KPA is not able to facilitate any other additional facility in the port.

"If the port must expand and they have proved that the government and KPA does not have funds, then we must appoint three economic experts (by

the three main stakeholders) to verify that the government has no money," said Sang. He said it is only upon the recommendation of the three experts that they can allow private investors to invest in the port expansion. Sang said any area of the port where taxpayers' money has been used cannot be privatized.

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