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Plan to concession ports amounts to privatisation, Thoya claims

 Cargo containers docked at the Port of Mombasa. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Mombasa Deputy Governor Francis Thoya has criticised President William Ruto for asserting that the Port of Mombasa is under concession, stating that there is no distinction between concession and privatisation.

Thoya expressed his concern that President Ruto should refrain from misleading Mombasa residents by using different terminology to convey the same intention, assuming that the people of Mombasa are gullible.

While addressing a two-day training session for the Ugatuzi champions’ cohorts to conduct a social audit of public facilities within the county, Thoya said the concession advocated by the president is essentially the same as the privatisation the government has discussed.

He said the government's actions at the port of Mombasa mirror the former regime's intentions, emphasising that individuals who opposed the move before the elections are now falsely claiming that the port is not being privatised.

Thoya said in the previous regime, figures like Nyali MP Mohammed Ali opposed the privatisation of the port, and now, under the current regime, leaders are asserting that the situation involves concession and not privatisation.

“We are not fools. Concession and privatisation simply mean the same thing,” Thoya said.

He questioned the necessity of making such a move concerning a profit-making institution with the resources to manage itself. Thoya suggested that the so-called partners should invest in building berths at the port rather than being given control over the port.

“We want to know our stake as the people of Mombasa. We also want that agreement to be laid bare to us. They should put up another investment instead of moving ahead with concession. We are now seeing a new wave of cartels in town. They always make frequent visits in this town,” Thoya said.

President Ruto had previously mentioned during inter-denominational prayers at Mama Ngina Waterfront in Mombasa that the operations at Mombasa and Lamu ports would be concessioned, not privatised, to enhance profitability.

In response, Coast Civil Society Organisation chairman Zedekiah Adika threatened legal action if the government did not rescind the port concession. Adika said the port of Mombasa, a vital lifeline for locals, should involve public participation, adding that the move would lead to economic strain in the region.

On the performance of the county government of Mombasa, Thoya said the revenue graph has shown a steady increase, rising from about Sh1.8 billion in 2013 to Sh3.9 billion, nearly threefold.

He said there is potential to upscale the revenue, attributing the rise to the automation of county government services, which he says has sealed all loopholes.

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