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Groups oppose privatisation of Mombasa container terminal

Monday July 15 2019

Mombasa port container terminal

Containers at the Mombasa port. The Dock Workers Union, a human rights lobby group and an association of community members have moved to court to oppose the privatisation of operations and management of the port's container terminal. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

PHILIP MUYANGA
By PHILIP MUYANGA
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The Dock Workers Union (DWU), a human rights lobby group and an association of community members have filed a petition challenging a memorandum of understanding between the government and a shipping company regarding operations and management of a container terminal at the port of Mombasa.

DWU, Taireni Association of Mijikenda and Muslims for Human Rights, who have filed the petition at the High Court in Mombasa, are seeking a declaration that the MoU between the government and Mediterranean Shipping Company is illegal and unconstitutional.

STATE ENTITY

According to the petitioners, the purported transfer or privatisation of the operations and management of the container terminal of the port of Mombasa to a private entity is contrary to the principles of sovereignty as the port is a national entity belonging to the State.

They argue that the MoU for the transfer of part of the port’s terminal to a private company is not viable and the implementation will be detrimental to them, the people of Mombasa and Kenyans.

“It has not been demonstrated that the port facility to be taken over by a private entity has been poorly managed, that there have been losses incurred or the State is unable to manage,” the petition states.

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JOB LOSSES

The petitioners also argue that there is an eminent danger of job losses as a result of the intended takeover as citizens will be locked out and that DWU and its members stand to be greatly prejudiced.

The petitioners have sued the Attorney-General and the Transport Cabinet secretary.

Kenya Ports Authority, Mediterranean Shipping Company and Kenya Seafarers Welfare Association have been named as interested parties in the suit.

The petitioners also want the court to declare that the new amendments to the Merchant Shipping Act through the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendments) 2019 is illegal and unconstitutional.