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Workers Union to challenge Uhuru's port terminal deal in court

BUSINESS NEWS
By Patrick Beja | July 11th 2019

Dockworkers Union General Secretary, Simon Sang makes a point during a press conference at the union's office in Mombasa. The Union is moving to Court this Thursday to stop the privatisation of Mombasa Port's Container Terminal 2. [Omondi Onyango/Standard]

The Dock Workers Union (DWU) is challenging the government’s decision to hand over the running of a terminal at the port of Mombasa to the Kenya National Shipping Line (KNSL).

Yesterday, Union General Secretary Simon Sang said he will continue to lobby Coast political leaders to pile pressure on the government to rescind the decision.

But it has emerged that Coast MPs are divided on the agreement signed on Monday and witnessed by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

The agreement between Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) and Kenya National Shipping Line will see the former hand over the Sh30 billion terminal to the latter.

The union is also split over the agreement, with a faction led by its chairman Mohamed Sheria backing the agreement opposed by another faction led by Sang.

Yesterday, Sang announced he will be banking on legislators in the battle with the government that is set to play out at the Mombasa High Court.

He said the union was relying on the support of Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir, Ali Mbogo (Kisauni), Suleiman Dori (Msambweni), Khatib Mwashetani (Lunga Lunga) and Bura’s Ali Wario.

“We know some MPs support our course but we are banking on those who have confirmed to us their unwavering support to ensure the container Terminal Two is not transferred to private hands,” Sang said.

The union is opposed to the amendment of the Merchant Shipping Act that seeks to exempt a shipping line owned or controlled by the government from restrictions on ship owners from providing certain services related to crewing agencies, pilotage, clearing and forwarding agents and general ship contracting among other operations.

In line with the President’s recommendations, the restrictions will not apply to KNSL whose majority shareholding is held by the government through KPA.

On Monday, the President commissioned Bandari Maritime Academy and signing of two memoranda supporting the training of seafarers and running of the second container terminal jointly by KNSL and MSC.

Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho mobilised his allies, including some legislators, to attend the President’s function and expressed support for his projects.

Joho’s allies who attended the presidential function at BMA grounds included Changamwe MP Omar Mwinyi, Mishi Mbogo (Likoni), Badi Twalib (Jomvu), William Kamoti (Rabai), Teddy Mwambire (Ganze) Ken Chonga (Kilifi South), Mombasa Senanor Mohamed Faki and his Kwale counterpart Issa Juma Boy.

Meanwhile, Sang yesterday announced the sacking of national chairman Mohamed Sheria who has led a number of union officials in backing the takeover. Sang said Mr Sheria ceased being an official after allegedly failing to attend three consecutive meetings.

Sheria, however, dismissed the sacking, saying for meetings to be properly convened, he and Sang should consult and sanction the agenda and date which did not happen.

“Mr Sang and I did not consult and agree,” Sheria said.

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