County plans to squeeze more revenue from Mombasa Port

Cranes handle containers at the Port of Mombasa. [Kelvin Karani, Standard]

Nassir is upbeat that most of the business groups have understood his intention. The bill will finally be forwarded to the county assembly.

"The finance bill was for the first time subjected to public participation in all 30 wards. I have been meeting various delegations and I have shaken hands with them at the end of the meetings after they stood my intention," Nassir explained.

But this is not the first time the county government has attempted to introduce levies at the port.

Nine years ago, former Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho announced plans to charge one dollar per tonne at the port but this was resisted by Kenya Ports Authority (KPA).

Speaking during the official opening of the Mombasa County Assembly, Mr Joho insisted that the county government must get revenue from the port.

"My county government will seek the support of the Assembly and the Senate to pass legislation that will compel the port of Mombasa to pay certain levies to the county government," Joho had said.

Joho had argued that port levies would be used to expand the road network. But 10 years down the line, Joho could not realise his dream of levying the port.

The defunct Mombasa Municipal Council had also attempted to charge one dollar per tonne but KPA fought the plan in court.

Last week, Chairman of Old Town Residents Association Mbwana Abdalla welcomed the push by the Nassir administration to get revenue from the port.

Mr Abdalla who is also chairman of the Kenya Coast Blue Economy, a lobby group, urged the national government to hand over Mombasa Old Port to residents through the county government, and to support tourism at the coast.

"We are also asking the national government to introduce an open sky policy like in Tanzania to attract more international flights in Mombasa," he said.

"We want the national government to build an international conference centre at the Bamburi Butterfly Pavilion to support tourism."

Meanwhile, Nassir has written to KPA management demanding that all projects at the port get county government approval before construction starts.

He said port projects must be fully regulated by both the county government and the National Construction Authority (NCA) to ensure conformity with safety standards.

"I have written to the port management telling them that all projects must get county government approval before construction starts," Nassir stressed.

The county government is crafting its finance bill at a time when it is grappling with a Sh4 billion debt inherited from the Joho regime as well as salary arrears.