We'll not charge ships more for waste -KMA

Hundreds of plastic wastes are scattered around berths at the Port of Mombasa. [File, Standard]

Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA) has put on ice a plan by the Mombasa County government that would have seen the devolved unit collect millions from ships for waste collection.

The county government, through the Mombasa County Waste Management (Amendment) Bill 2023, had mooted a plan that would have seen ships pay for waste collection at the port.

However, KMA has poured cold water on the plan, claiming that it will raise the cost of doing business at the port. Mombasa County had planned to start collecting the levies beginning May 15.

KMA said already ships are already paying waste collection charges to agents placed at the port. Paying the county would amount to a double charge.

KMA has also raised issues over inadequate public participation when the Bill was being created.

The Bill was meant to review a proposal to align the 2021 Act to the Sustainable Waste Management Act, of 2012. The money was to be collected on behalf of the county by the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA).

In a letter seen by Shipping and Logistics, KMA said it has suspended a notice issued by KPA to collect the levies from ships and invited KPA, National Environment Management Authority (Nema) and the Mombasa County government to deliberate on the matter.

KMA noted that as the regulator of the maritime industry, it is empowered to review tariff proposals preferred upon maritime service providers against the services to be rendered to avoid unclear and duplicate charges being placed on the industry resulting in rising costs of doing business and reducing competitiveness of Mombasa port.

In the letter signed by KMA director general Martin Munga, the industry regulator said that the charges incorporated under part VII - Financial Provisions of 2021 Act - have not been linked to specific services provided by the county government and as such not transparent and contrary to the provisions of the Constitution.

It noted that Article 196 of the Constitution requires reasonable and meaningful public participation to be undertaken in respect of legislative proposals from county governments.

It further stated that Article Six expects that national and county government entities ought to conduct their mutual relations based on consultation and cooperation.

"With the enactment of the Mombasa County (Waste Management) (Amendment) Act, 2023, we note that the methodology used at arriving at the preferred charges remains unknown, unsupported and further provides confusion in terms of whether it includes those already paid to waste collection providers licensed by Nema as well as whether it applies simply to ships that dock at the port of Mombasa," said KMA.

The letter dated May 9, 2024, was addressed to KPA managing director Captain William Ruto. It was copied to the principal secretary State Department of Shipping and Maritime Affairs, the Mombasa County government and Nema.

In the letter, KMA noted that it wrote to the county government last year when the maritime industry sought an intervention on the proposals contained in the Mombasa County Waste Management (Amendment) Bill, 2023, to levy a charge payable by a ship that docks at the port without clarity as to whether it this applies to ships that dock at the port even where they do not drop any solid waste.

"KMA upon review of the 2nd version as shared by the industry, wrote to the county government of Mombasa... intimating tyhe challenges in the introduction of charges payable by a ship that docks at the port of Mombasa and proposals for consideration where it was hoped that dialogue would ensue an appropriate clear framework is legislated on. To date, KMA has not received any response," reads the letter.

In a notice to customers, KPA says effective May 15, it will charge at least Sh27,000 ($200) for solid waste management from ships calling the port on behalf of the County Government of Mombasa.

Captain Ruto said the Mombasa Solid Waste Management (Amendments) Act 2023 mandates the county to levy charges for solid waste management on ships calling at the port of Mombasa.