Three candidates vying for Mombasa governor seat differed over the push to return port services from the Nairobi and Naivasha dry ports.
While William Kingi of Pamoja Africa Alliance (PAA) dismissed the promise as unrealistic and populist, UDA candidate Hassan Omar insisted a Kenya Kwanza government would make it happen in the first 100 days.
Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi of Kilifi is the leader of PAA and is campaigning for Deputy President William Ruto, the UDA presidential candidate.
William Kingi said the proposal is aimed at hoodwinking the voters.
He said the proponents of the proposal have failed to explain how they intend to do so given that the SGR was there to stay.
He said the evacuation of cargo by the SGR was part of the loan agreements.
He said the logistics services that used to thrive in Mombasa had been disrupted by many things like the shifting of the clearance services to the online portals.
Hassan also said that the UDA leaders have signed a pact with Ruto to renegotiate all commercial loans used for the construction of the SGR and revoke all port tenders.
“Ruto hasn’t benefited from the SGR tenders and he shall return the port operation by force and we shall renegotiate the loan terms,” said Hassan during a public debate for candidates vying for the governor’s seat.
“We can’t allow a few people to steal from us. Ruto will give Executive orders to return the SGR to Mombasa and all the port terminals taken by the cronies.”
Hassan, William Kingi and Usawa Kwa Wote party candidate Said Omar were put to task to explain how they will ensure Mombasa residents benefit from the SGR and port operations that was transferred to Naivasha.
ODM candidate Abdulswamad Shariff Nassir did not appear for the debate that saw Hassan, William Kingi and Said fumble on strategies to return port operations to Mombasa.
Nassir, who has been a critic of moving of port services from Mombasa has however proposed the hastening of the construction of the Dongo Kundu Special Economic zone to create jobs.
Hassan said that Ruto, also the Kenya Kwanza leader, will forcefully return the port operations.
“We shall renegotiate and stretch the loan repayment period. It was negotiated by people who wanted to benefit themselves and a few of their friends,” said Hassan.
He said the SGR move to Naivasha was a deal done to benefit a few individuals in both the national and county governments.
William Kingi said UDA politicians were lying to the people that the government will return port operations to Mombasa. He said the realistic thing to do would be to return clearing and forwarding services.
“Truthfully, how shall we repay the loan? Let us not lie to people that the government will return port operations to Mombasa. The SGR is pegged on a Sh450 billion loan,” Kingi said.
“So anyone saying they will return the port services should explain how they will repay the loan. What I shall do is to immediately return clearing and forwarding services.”
Kingi admitted the transfer of SGR to Naivasha dry port has hurt Mombasa residents and it has turned Mombasa into a ghost town with over 40,000 jobs lost.
Said admitted it is not easy to return the port services because of the loan but said he will go to court to have that done.