Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia has reshuffled 14 out of 16 heads of department at the port of Mombasa as the government seeks to ensure its directive for imported cargo to be ferried through the standard gauge railway (SGR) succeeds.
Mr Macharia also sent a strong warning to cartels sabotaging the Sh327 billion Mombasa-Nairobi railway line that was launched in fanfare in 2017 but has since failed to attract enough business.
Mr Macharia redeployed heads of departments to different sections saying the changes were guided by performance and governance.
Mr Macharia, who toured the port Thursday, said the changes will make the port work more efficiently and in sync with the SGR.
The shuffle caught the port workers, including the top management, unawares.
Speaking at Prideinn Hotel in Mombasa, the CS said the changes which take effect immediately were agreed on by the board.
"This is due to the 14 senior general managers' performance and governance that have impacted on the overall performance of the port. Nobody will lose [their] job as at the moment. In addition to performance, stakeholders' highlighted lapses in governance issues," Mr Macharia said.
He said the government will not compromise on cargo transportation to Nairobi's inland container depot (ICD).
Mr Macharia announced that six trains will be leaving the port transporting cargo to the ICD daily beginning end of June.
He said 28 million tons of cargo arrive through the port hence transporters should not be worried about loss of business when cargo is transported through the SGR.
If the logistical issues including loading and offloading of cargo are dealt with expeditiously, Mr Macharia said, the SGR will be the ideal means of transport for goods.
"Nobody will be out of business. Even if you say eight million tons belong to Mombasa, 20 million tons will go to Nairobi and the maximum the SGR can take is 10 million (tons), so we still have 10 million tons of cargo which can go through the road. We want to utilise our investment," he said.
Mr Macharia said the port of Mombasa must compete with other harbours including Dar-salaam and Tanga.
"We now have 1.6 million containers coming (and) that is why we have to build more container terminals. Even if we took 12 trains everyday that's about half of what is required so the other half will go by road.
"It will benefit everybody because the train takes six hours unlike the trucks which take two days. It will also stop accidents in terms of damage to our roads," he added.