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Mombasa port workers oppose transfer of second container terminal to KNSL

Thursday, 27 December 2018 | 00:00

Mombasa port workers have opposed plans to hand over the running of second container terminal to the Kenya National Shipping Line.

Dock Workers Union general secretary Simon Sang on Sunday told the Star the move is ill-advised and should be reconsidered.

“The KNSL has no capacity to run such a facility. As far as we are concerned, a shipping line cannot run a terminal effectively,” Sang said.

He spoke during an interview at the Star offices in Mombasa.

High-level discussions to hand over the running of the second container terminal at the Mombasa port to KNSL are being made between the Office of the President and the Transport ministry, the Star has learned.

Sang said the discussions are yet to be cascaded downwards to other stakeholders.

“We think it is important that a discussion is opened and we, as stakeholders, are called to a roundtable,” said Sang.

The union has already written to KPA MD Daniel Manduku asking him to ensure it is involved in any talks that will affect the port.

Manduku has turned the port around, improving efficiency and breaking several performance records in the process.

The dock workers, who are over 7,000 in number, fear that the inability to run a container terminal will force the KNSL to outsource capacity.

“This means they will likely hire a private company to run the container terminal,” Sang explained.

Hiring a private firm to run the second container terminal is tantamount to privatising it and it will mean significantly downsizing the workforce, according to Sang.

“That is why we are not in support of any such move until we sit down and know exactly what they want to do,” the general secretary said.

Since Manduku took over the running of the port over six months ago, there have been no disruptions as he has been very close to workers and listens to their concerns.

“Workers are very worried about the same and when they saw that, they quickly started inundating my phone with calls and messages,” said Sang.

This is not the first time the government is thinking about giving out the running the container terminal to a different entity apart from KPA.

In 2015, similar concerns were raised leading to a strike at the port facility resulting in hundreds of millions of shillings in losses in terms of revenue.

“Legally, Section 16 of the Merchant Shipping Act disallows shipping companies to operate port terminals. The functions of KNSL does not include running a terminal,” Sang said.
Source: The Star Kenya

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