Agency in the dark on terminal takeover

A State shipping agency is in the dark over ongoing negotiations between the Government and an Italian firm to take over operations of the country’s second container terminal, a National Assembly committee was told on Friday.

Kenya National Shipping Line (KNSL) boss Joseph Juma informed the committee that the agency — partly owned by the Italian firm, Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) — was only involved “at the technical level” as the Government signed an MoU with the Italians. 

The Italian firm owns 20 per cent of the ailing KNSL and the proposed takeover would effectively give it sway in the terminal’s operations.

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“The negotiations are between the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA), which is the Government side, and MSC given the partnership that they have. I know there are negotiations going on restructuring. But it has not devolved to our point as KNSL,” Mr Juma told the committee.

The Public Investments Committee is questioning the deal on grounds that it will kill KPA operations.

The controversy on the takeover has been escalated by proposed changes to the law that would allow Transport Cabinet secretary to circumvent a provision in the Act; barring a shipping line from running a container terminal. The changes are contained in the Statute Amendment Bill, 2019.

The Government is pushing the takeover on grounds that it will revive the debt-ridden KNSL and create jobs. But the deal has run into headwinds after MPs rejected it.

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Kenya National Shipping LineKPAMediterranean Shipping CompanyKenya Ports Authority