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Joho family, KPA in row over port cargo deal with South Sudan

 Former Mombasa governor Hassan Joho. [Maarufu Mohamed, Standard]

An ugly fallout has emerged between Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) and two cargo handling companies associated with the family of former Mombasa governor Hassan Joho over the lucrative South Sudan cargo deal.

Autoports Freight Terminal Limited and Compact Freight System Limited are demanding that three KPA officials be jailed for six months for contempt of court for directing the cargo to rivals.

The two firms, through lawyer Gikandi Ngubuini, want KPA container operations manager Peter Masinde, conventional cargo manager Ali Mwambire and corporation secretary and general manager legal services Turasha Kinyanjui jailed for giving South Sudan cargo to third parties.

In court papers dated August 22 this year, the two companies have named Roads and Transport Cabinet Secretary (CS) as first respondent, CS Industrialisation as second respondent, Attorney General third and KPA fourth respondents.

In the escalating legal battle, the Joho family firms say the port managers should be sent to prison for disobeying a court order issued by Justice Alfred Mabeya on January 25 this year that allegedly restrained the respondents from interfering either by themselves, their agents, servants or any person acting on their instructions with the cargo arrangement at the port of Mombasa.

The firms argued that the arrangement was that general and containerised cargo destined for South Sudan through the port was to be handled, stored and warehoused by either of the applicants pending hearing and determination of the suit.

"However, in blatant disregard of the said orders, the 4th respondent (KPA) through its officers; head of container operations Peter Masinde, manager conventional cargo Ali Mwambire and general manager legal services Turasha Kinyanjui, has blatantly refused to comply with the orders of this honourable court and have proceeded to interfere with the existing arrangements by releasing cargo destined for South Sudan through the port of Mombasa to third parties in utter disregard to the orders of this court," said the applicants.

Earlier, KPA had informed the two firms through Gikandi and Company Advocates that South Sudan government had communicated that cargo from that country would be cleared at the port as opposed to Nairobi Freight Terminal. KPA also told the applicants that South Sudan had allowed its cargo to be handled by any facility approved by Kenya Revenue Authority's Customs department.

In the letter dated August 18 this year, Kinyanjui said the earlier arrangement where South Sudan government had nominated Autoports Container Freight Station (CFS) and Compact CFS for cargo clearance had been rescinded.

However, the applicants argued that release of cargo to third parties will completely extinguish the subject matter of the suit since the substratum of the petition is regarding the applicants' nomination as cargo handlers for all cargo destined for South Sudan through the port.

They want the three KPA officials committed to civil jail or prison for a period of six months for contempt of court in order to punish the contempt already committed by them as well as avert, deter and or curb any further disobedience of the said valid court orders.

They argued that KPA actions would totally cripple their business operations at the port.

The applicants argued that unless the application was heard immediately and the orders granted, KPA would continue to be in contempt of the orders to the detriment of the applicants who were likely to suffer substantial loss and damage and also render the application nugatory.

Portside Freight Terminal, another firm associated with the Joho family, has moved to court to challenge a directive by government to review land leases at the port.

The firm had leased the land for 20 years to construct a fertiliser handling plant at the port.

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