The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: Mombasa to Manage Port - Senator Omar

MOMBASA county has convinced the Senate that ferries and harbours should be under the management of counties. "The senate concurred with the argument from the county of Mombasa in its unanimity that ferries and harbours are functions of the county," said Mombasa senator Hassan Omar yesterday.

Omar and Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho have been campaigning for control of Mombasa port to revert to the county arguing that ferries and harbours are constitutionally under the management of counties.

Over the past four days the Senate has been sitting in Mombasa to discuss the transfer of functions from the national to the county governments.

Omar speaking on the sidelines of the signing of an MoU that officially recognises the Sh4.8 billion English Point Marina project as a Vision 2030 private sector flagship project.

"Our next step now is to direct the Transitional Authority to devolve the ferries and harbours to Mombasa county," said the senator. Dock Workers Union general secretary Simon Sang welcomed the decision saying port projects will now be fast-tracked.

"We support devolution 100 per cent. This means that bureaucracy will be reduced by 90 per cent. Managing the port from Nairobi has been problematic," said Sang.

"Projects like the Dongo Kundu by-pass have been on the priority list for the last 15 years. With this development, I believe it will be fast-tracked," said Sang.

"It has always been the position of Mombasa county that ferries and harbours are functions under the fourth schedule part two, functions of the county," said Omar. Omar said he anticipated challenges in implementing the unanimous Senate decision.

He said there was an unfounded fear of exclusion and disenfranchisement if the port was to revert to the control of Mombasa county. "But the Constitution is the Constitution. You don't have to like various provisions. What you have to do is respect those provisions," said Omar.

"The Senate was unanimous that it is imperative that the TA immediately undertakes the legislative or administrative measures to ensure that the port of Mombasa or the harbour, and ferries, revert to the Mombasa county," said Omar.

He said they have now started preparing the transitional framework for county management. Central government is likely to oppose the transfer of Mombasa port to the county, partly because they have recently promised the China government that 30 percent of port cargo will be guaranteed for the standard gauge railway.

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