In Summary
  • A port is a very critical piece of national infrastructure.
  • In Kenya, 30 percent of national government revenues come from Customs duties.
  • And ports are the means by which contraband, ranging from drugs to ivory, escape to the rest of the world.

I gather that a plan by the Ministry of Transport to remove the management and control of the second container terminal from the Kenya Ports Authority and hand over this relatively new facility to the State-owned Kenya National Shipping Line is at an advanced stage.

What a dumb idea! We all know, the KNSL neither has the capacity nor the knowledge and experience to run a container terminal.

How do you hand over management of your top-of-the-range Mercedes Benz to a jua kali garage?

A port is a very critical piece of national infrastructure.

CUSTOM DUTIES

Whether it is efficient or not has major implications on the performance of the economy.

In Kenya, 30 percent of national government revenues come from Customs duties.

And ports are the means by which contraband, ranging from drugs to ivory, escape to the rest of the world.

I don’t understand why policymakers — and people in authority — display such a casual attitude even when it is clear that the decisions they make have far-reaching implications.

HIVING OFF

You don’t wake up one morning and decide that you are hiving off part of the KPA — transferring functions and responsibility to another entity — even where it is clear that the parastatal inheriting the functions is not too famous for efficiency in service delivery.

In any event, you must follow the laws governing privatisation and disposal of public assets.

A decision as drastic as hiving off such a big part of the operations of KPA to KNSL may require parliamentary approval.

I called up the Cabinet Secretary for Transport and Infrastructure, Mr James Macharia, to seek an explanation and background on the issue, even as I tried to understand why things were being done in such a hurry.

His response was swift and terse: “Jaindi, just report that I said I had no comment.”

Yet I have my own conspiracy theory. I see the handiwork of shadowy characters — who, having failed to wrestle management and control of the facility in an abortive attempt three years ago to concession it — have come up with a new and more elaborate scheme.

Here is a bit of background and history.

REFERENCE PORT

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