KPA starts return of port services to Mombasa following Ruto order

Mombasa port

The Mombasa Port. The Employment and Labour Relations Court dismissed a petition that sought to restrain the Kenya Ports Authority from discriminating against members of the Mijikenda community in its recruitment of 200 dock workers.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

The Kenya Ports Authority’s management has started the process of returning port services to Mombasa in compliance with President William Ruto’s directive.

The agency has begun in-house reorganisation by deploying more workers in affected departments to ensure efficiency.

“There has been no more Container Nomination Team meetings and all Mombasa container clearance requests are being allowed. .. We are fully committed to totally implement the presidential directive as we wait for further guidelines,” said a communication from Senior Operations Officer Patrick Makau to departmental heads.

However, several stakeholders who have been pushing for the nomination and clearing of cargo at the port, dissatisfied with the pace of the transfer, have urged the government to speed up the process.

A spot check by the Nation showed that only Mombasa-bound cargo is being handled there,  while more than 2,000 containers are still being hauled using the standard gauge railway (SGR).

Kenya International Forwarding and Warehousing Association Chairman Roy Mwanthi complained that KPA has not issued any communication to shipping lines to inform importers to use Mombasa as their clearing point.

 “Two or three years ago, KPA ordered shipping line agents to nominate all cargo on transit to be cleared in Nairobi. This will not change until communication is issued to revoke the order,” said Mr Mwanthi.

Kenya Transport Association Chairman Newton Wang’oo said the agency will write officially to the government since no truck has been allowed to pick up cargo from the port.

 “We haven’t seen any changes yet and we shall be seeking audience with the KPA management on Monday for updates,” he said.

 Mombasa Governor Abdulswamad Nassir asked President Ruto to issue a communication through the relevant ministry to ensure the order becomes reality.

He promised to work with the national government “where the law permits to make sure Mombasa residents and the county government get what is due to them”. 

The return of the port operations that were transferred to Nairobi and Naivasha is expected to revive the coastal city’s economy.

According to a University of Nairobi’s School of Business study conducted after the implementation of the order requiring mandatory transfer of cargo through SGR to Nairobi, Mombasa county was losing Sh17.4 billion and 2,987 jobs every year.

The government, in 2019 enforced a directive that saw traders use the Standard Gauge Railway to help repay the Sh450 billion loan used to build it.