Kenya’s new leadership is on a quest to discard the seemingly counterproductive economic policies rolled out by the previous administration targeting the Coast as it sets the stage for the growth under Kenya Kwanza manifesto.
The former regime’s decision to put up inland container depots in Nairobi and Naivasha, taking away operations from the Port of Mombasa brought grave economic detriment to the coastal city, annihilating trucking jobs and businesses as the Standard Gauge Railway took de jure precedence in transporting cargo to the inland ports.
As such, reverting port operations to Mombasa and allowing importers to prefer a mode of transport for their goods was among the first changes effected by President William Ruto when he took office.
“Mombasa had become a ghost town but is now back, with clearing and forwarding firms reopening,” said the President.
Dr Ruto’s administration is now eyeing more changes in the realm of port operations with the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) being lined up for structural overhaul to rid it of the baggage hindering efficiency.
Transport Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen alluded to these changes in an earlier interview, where he singled out the inordinate number of managerial positions (7) at the state corporation.
“I visited the Port of Mombasa and held a meeting with the board and management team of the KPA led by General Joseph Kibwana and acting Managing Director John Mwangemi.
“I was appraised of the progress Kenya has made in streamlining and modernizing the port operations and the existential challenges that need government interventions,” said the CS yesterday.
The President is bent on lifting the lid on how the previous administration undertook procurement, especially in the light of last year’s reports on Dubai Ports World winning a tender to operate and manage the country’s numerous ports, albeit under shadowy circumstances.
Seamless functioning of the Port of Mombasa will be critical to the success of the Dongo Kundu Special Economic Zone (SEZ), which is wired to revitalize the economy of the coast region by creating opportunities for locals through value addition and manufacturing.
The president met actors with an interest in the project on Saturday, in readiness for the construction of the first phase of the SEZ.
“I had a big meeting with investors of the project and the concerned ministry officials to deliberate on the Dongo Kundu SEZ, which must be operational within two years,” said Dr Ruto when he toured the Port of Mombasa over the weekend.
“We will eradicate poverty through investing in business and rebuilding the economy, developing infrastructure, and boosting connectivity,” he added.