A promise for 2,000 plus jobs, a divided dock workers union, a cocktail of threats and the fury of a section of grumpy Coastal leaders.
This is the tale of the one week old handover of Mombasa port’s second Container Terminal (CT2) to a joint venture of Kenya National Shipping Line (KNSL) and Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), the latter a Swiss registered firm and the second largest shipping line in the world.
On Monday, President Uhuru Kenyatta witnessed signing of a new shareholding agreement between KNSL and MSC in a ceremony boycotted by a host of area MPs led by Mvita’s Abdulswamad Nassir.
While KPA is now promising 2,000 jobs for Kenyans by end of the year, Dock Workers Union claim 4,000 jobs will be lost and with them a capital flight of not less than Sh13 billion. It is the battle for the truth of the multi-billion shilling project.
“MSC as a strategic partner has already started making our port a hub where their ships dock then let smaller vessels distribute cargo to other ports like the one in Dar es Saalam, this means more jobs and business for us,” KPA Chief Executive Daniel Manduku told Sunday Standard yesterday.
In the deal, Manduku said, MSC is expected to hire about 2,000 seafarers and progressively grow the numbers to a high of about 52,000 in 10 years or 200,000 seafarers in 15 years and assist transform the port into a transshipment centre for the region.
He said MSC, the globe’s largest cruise shipping line, had promised to open up the country’s port to cruise business.
“There are 30 million people that use cruise in a year, we are going to tap into this to make our port the regional hub and a transhipment destination. We will see a lot of activity not only in Mombasa but in the other ports,” said Manduku.
He said the port had set its eyes on making a net profit of Sh20 billion by the end of June next year due to the recent record increase in cargo trains to the Inland Container Depot in Nairobi and the rising business opportunities.
But the Dock Workers Union has claimed that 4,000 jobs will be lost and have threatened to go to court to challenge the merger.
Union Secretary General Simeon Sang said they have valid reasons to raise concerns over the manner the deal was cut by the government, claiming it was a ploy to sneak privatisation through the backdoor.
Sang said the union anticipates that under the private operator, with profit maximisation in mind, will see more than 4,000 jobs lost at the terminal and capital flight of not less than Sh13 billion in profits.
Union Chairman Mohamed Sheria claimed before President Kenyatta that his life was in danger for supporting the takeover.
But maritime expert Said Abdalla said the deal presents opportunities for the jobless youths who are blamed for rising insecurity in Kisauni, Nyali and Likoni. “It is a deal that must be supported by political leaders,” said Mr Abdalla.
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