Leaders clash over plan to lease out port

Azimio leader Raila Odinga addressing the press in Mombasa after a closed-door meeting with ODM governors on September 29, 2023. [Kelvin Karani, Standard]

President William Ruto and opposition chief Raila Odinga on Friday clashed over the planned leasing of some services at the ports of Mombasa and Lamu.

Barely minutes after the president allayed fears that the Mombasa Port services were on sale, Raila alleged a secret plot to sell off the facility.

Raila said the plan for the concession of port services was shrouded in secrecy and without public participation as required in law. He said the Mombasa County government must be involved in the plan.

Raila was addressing the press in Mombasa after a closed-door meeting with ODM governors. He said the country was perturbed by the alleged privatisation of Mombasa and Lamu ports.

But speaking at Bomas of Kenya, the president dismissed reports that the ports will be privatised promising the people of the Coast that “The port will never be privatised while I’m in power.”

Fulfil promise

“I tell the people of Mombasa that the issue of privatisation of the port will not happen when we are in government. I fulfilled my promise to return the port services on the first day,” said Ruto.

However, the head of state said that the government will partner with the private sector to expand and enhance the efficiency of the port to create jobs and improve productivity.

“In the concession process with the private sector, we will make sure that we protect the interest of Kenyans. We will work with the private sector to expand the port so that it can serve South Sudan, DRC Rwanda, Burundi, and Uganda,” said Ruto

In Mombasa, Raila said Kenyans demand transparency in the management of public affairs and assets, adding that Azimio La Umoja One Kenya coalition leadership does not support the deal.

Raila was flanked by coalition leaders Ms Martha Karua, Kalonzo Musyoka, Eugene Wamalwa, Jeremiah Kioni, Mwangi Wairia, Ndiritu Mureithi, ODM deputy party leader Wycliffe Oparanya, and 17 governors.


“Azimio La Umoja One Kenya coalition does not support the planned privatisation of the port and we shall resist it until the issues Kenyans have raised are openly and adequately addressed. We demand transparency and openness in the management of public affairs and public assets as required by law and the meaningful engagement of the representatives of the people,” said the leaders in a statement.

The coalition demanded to know the economic value of the concession to Kenyans, the people of the Coast region, and Mombasa County.

At the same time, the Azimio leadership asked the Kenya Kwanza administration to stop meddling in the affairs and functions of county governments.

“They should desist the current interference in the mandate of devolved functions such as distribution of fertiliser, construction and opening of markets, health sector, and commissioning of industrial parks,” said Raila.

The leaders told the Kenya Kwanza administration to release funds allocated to county governments in time for effectiveness and efficiency in service delivery.

Meanwhile, the Azimio forum pledged to support the ongoing national dialogue that has brought together representatives from both the Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya coalition and Kenya Kwanza Alliance.

Raila said the Azimio coalition wanted the talks to be people-centered and focused and that there must be a show of commitment by all parties.

“Even as talks go on, we shall continue to pursue justice for the victims of police brutality during our peaceful demonstrations,” Raila said.

He said the talks are aimed at fixing the major problems facing Kenyans such as the high cost of living.