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Thousands of jobs at stake as new team moves in to reform Mombasa port

COAST
By Benard Sanga | February 11th 2016

MOMBASA: The ripple effects of the drastic changes at the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) continued to be felt in Mombasa yesterday. It emerged that at least 90 senior and middle level managers would be investigated for a series of crimes.

There was panic at the port after the 7,500 workers learnt that some of the managers would be investigated over insider trading, manipulation of information systems and graft.

Others are being investigated for malpractice in procurement and tenders including the concession to operate the Second Container Terminal and implementation of two vessel tracking systems.

The fate of 24 Container Freight Station (CFS) was in limbo after the KPA board introduced new policy directing that the clearance of transit cargo happens inside the port in a move meant to deter diversion of goods destined for foreign nations into the local market and boost revenue.

There was also apprehension among some of the 6,000 CFS employees who feared that the new policy would render them jobless. One owner who asked not to be named told The Standard:" We are staring at the start of the end of CFS and the laying off of about 6,000 employees."

However, some quarters have welcomed the changes and praised the new policy directing that the clearance of transit cargo happens inside the port, saying it will deter diversion of goods destined for foreign nations into the local market and boost revenue.

Car Importers Association Chair Peter Otieno said the directive to have transit containers cleared from the port would reduce cargo diversion.
"CFS are allowed to do clearing and forwarding talks but they had established one-stop-shop and others dominated goods destined to certain countries. This breaks the monopoly," said Mr Otieno.

Also at stake is the tender for the Second Container Terminal, which has been put on hold. This could go against a loan agreement signed between KPA and the Japan International Cooperation Bank (JICB) on November 20, 2007. JICB gave out a Sh26 billion soft loan under Special Terms of Economic Partnership to be repaid at an interest rate of 0.2 per cent within 40 years, with a grace period of 10 years.

The Government is to contribute Sh5 billion to the project in addition to Sh612 million paid as compensation for the displaced. The capital will be used to finance the construction of the terminal and purchase of cargo handling equipment, meaning the concessionaire will not be required to inject any capital.
The original tender issued on December 29, 2014 for the concessioner to operate the Second Container Terminal has however been altered and seven addenda introduced in what other interested firms have said are aimed to favour one firm.

VACATE HOUSES

Yesterday, The Standard established that some of the sacked managers were still occupying their houses and offices even as fear spread that several of them could be arrested.

KPA Board Chairman Marsden Madoka directed the affected managers to vacate their houses and offices immediately

Major Madoka said reception of dismissal letters is a formality that will follow them and added: "They cannot refuse to leave. A decision has already been made. If it is an issue of letters, they will get them anytime from now."

There were reports that some of the managers were planning to challenge their sacking in court.

A source who declined to be named also said many employees in the Finance and Operations department are planning to resign amid fears the purge on the senior managers will spread downwards to their cronies.

And there were unconfirmed reports that the name of one the middle level managers mysteriously disappeared from a dossier compiled by a State agency, which has formed the basis of the current purge.

Those who have already been dismissed are Justus Nyarandi (general manager Corporate Services), Twalib Khamisi (Operations), Mohamed Morowa (Security Services,) and Catherine Gatere (Legal Affairs). Managing Director Francis Ndua also left.

A senior manager among those asked to resign on Tuesday reported to work yesterday and locked himself in the office after retorting to junior workers that "I will not leave until I am served with dismissal letter. We are just reading in the media that we have been sacked but have not received any correspondence."

At the port, the acting divisional general managers took over their new roles as employees waited for the board members and the chairman to address them on the new changes.

The new managers are Catherine Muturi (acting MD), Sudi Mwasigo (general manager Operations) Edward Kamau (general manager) Adraya Dena (manager Legal Services) Mariam Khamis (Head of Security) and Amani Komora( manager Human Resource)

Yesterday, it emerged that dismissal of the senior managers was linked to increased import of contraband, questions about major tenders at the port and a recent spike in the theft of goods that pass through the facility.
The KPA board chairman is expected to address the employees today on the changes effected and outline the way forward especially on how the facility will handle goods destined to neighbouring countries.

 SHIPPING TRADE

But the Dock Workers Union (DWU) said massive recruitment was expected at the port following the new Government directive that KPA operates the Second Container Terminal.

DWU Secretary General Simon Sang said over 2,000 additional employees would be required and that the move would reduce the Container Freight Stations' role in the shipping trade.

He said with enough space at KPA, all imports should be cleared at the port.
"About 41 per cent of cargo handled at the port is destined for neighbouring countries. KPA accords the goods nine days in free storage and I think there is enough space at the port. The role of CFS should reduce and more cargo be cleared from the port," Mr Sang added.

He said CFS was a temporary idea to ease pressure on the port that was experiencing increased volume of cargo. CFS Association CEO Daniel Nzeki said the operators had no problem with the new State directive, saying only a very small percentage of goods to neighbouring countries was being handled by the CFSs.

"It (directive) will have a very small impact on the CFS operators. Very few CFSs were dealing with transit goods but we will monitor the situation," said Mr Nzeki.

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