The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: Mombasa a Regional Port, Declares Uhuru

PRESIDENT Uhuru yesterday declared that the Mombasa is a regional asset.

This assertion counters demands by Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho and Senator Hassan Omar that the port be managed by the county government.

"The port of Mombasa does not belong to Mombasa. Neither does it belong to Kenya. It belongs to East Africa," Uhuru said after signing an agreement between the East Africa Community states on various infrastructural projects in the regions.

Section 5(e) of the Fourth Schedule of the constitution provides that functions and powers of the county include ferries and harbours.

Joho and Omar have used this as their basis for their calls for port to be left under management of the county government.

However, the constitution lists the Mombasa port as a national asset and thus should be under the control of the national government.

On Wednesday, Uhuru said the port is of importance not just to Kenya but to the entire region.

He said the presence of Uganda President Yoweri Museveni and Rwanda's Paul Kagame during the commissioning of berth 19 of the port is testimony to the regional importance of the port.

Dock Workers Union have however downplayed the significance of the fight over ownership saying whoever controls the port should not be the priority.

"Placing the control of the Mombasa port under the county will only overburden the county government," Dock Workers Union general secretary Simon Sang said.

The union said the move will have no direct or indirect impact on the lives of residents. The county leadership should instead concentrate on how to help transform it into a free port facility.

"It is the free port facility which will create up to 200,000 jobs for Kenyans in the Coast immediately it is complete," said Sang.

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