Ruto assures Coast residents of share of revenue from ports

President William Ruto (right) launches Bamburi-Mwakirunge-Rabairo road in Mombasa County on November 1, 2023. [Kelvin Karani, Standard]

President William Ruto kicked off his five-day tour of the Coast with a promise to Mombasa and Lamu counties of a share of the revenue from the ports.

Ruto, who returned to the Coast barely five days after his last visit, also said his administration would start to acquire swathes of land owned by absentee landlords at the Coast to resettle squatters.

“We shall sit and discuss with the governor (Abdulswamad Nasir of Mombasa) to agree on how the county can get something from the port as he has been agitating for,” said Ruto.

Speaking at Mwakirunge in Mombasa, the President said he would ensure the counties of Mombasa and Lamu also benefit from the planned Special Economic Zones (SEZ).

Mr Nasir, who accompanied the President Wednesday, said Coast residents have agitated for a share of the revenue from the port for years because it was their main asset.

“Our requests have over the years been about two issues, which are sharing of the revenue generated by the Port of Mombasa and the settlement of squatters,” said Nassir.

The issue of leasing the ports of Mombasa and Lamu has generated political heat, with some leaders led by Nassir asking the government to postpone it.

A fortnight ago, Coast leaders from the political divide said they want leasing or concession of the port service stopped until the matter was discussed and agreed upon.

Yesterday, the President allayed fears expressed by political class and a section of maritime experts, saying the development inside and outside the port will benefit the region.

“There is no one who does not want development or the city to progress. All we are saying is we do not want to be sidelined. We want to know what is in for our people,” said Nassir recently.

Last Saturday, Kenya Ports Authority MD William Ruto said the State expects to raise Sh1 trillion through the planned concession of some services in the two ports.

He said KPA will also collect between Sh50 billion and Sh60 billion from each concessionaire, for the use of berths and equipment.

Mombasa has been keen to raise Sh2.3 billion per year from the port to plug the budget deficit blamed on its ballooning workforce and skewed allocation formulae.

According to Mombasa County Finance Bill 2022/2023 draft, Nassir’s administration wanted to charge all imports – local and transit – a new levy.

Yesterday, the President said in this financial year, Sh1 billion has been allocated to buy land to settle the squatters. He said he would fulfil his promise of solving the squatter problem.

Ruto spoke after launching the construction of the 33-kilometre road connecting Rabai in Kilifi County to Mombasa County. The project will cost Sh2.2 billion.