Union opposes port privatisation plan, calls conference of Governors, senators and MPs

Dock workers union led by their Secretary General, Simon Sang (centre) join hands in solidarity after a press conference at Dock workers union office in Mombasa. [Omondi Onyango/Standard]

Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) workers have asked the government to shelve plans to privatise some functions at the Mombasa port, saying the move amounts to transfer of public wealth to private hands.

Dock Workers Union (DWU) General Secretary Simon Sang said they were opposed to government plans to hand over running of the Sh27 billion second container terminal to Kenya National Shipping Line (KNSL) in collaboration with the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC).

“Privatising the second container terminal will cause a reduction of employment by over 50 per cent overall. This means over 4,000 employees will lose their jobs,” he argued.

Mr Sang claimed the plan targeted the second container terminal that could rake in Sh10 billion profits annually but could end up in a concession with other shipping lines and take over the entire business in the port including the conventional cargo handling berths.

“Container terminal two is the most modern Port in Africa; the facility cost the government Sh27 billion, and can generate a profit of Sh10 billion per year by compromising labour therefore it is senseless to hand it over to a private company,” he said.

The DWU General Secretary said privatisation of the port should be subjected to public participation or a national referendum.

He vowed to create a big movement that will comprise port workers, local community, governors, senators, MPs, MCAs and Kaya elders to oppose the move.

“We are in fact going to hold our first meeting of all the leaders I have mentioned above under the leadership of Governors Amason Kingi, Hassan Joho and Salim Mvurya. We have also invited Cotu Secretary General Francis Atwoli to attend the meeting on April 13 at KPA Makande Hall,” Sang said.