| Ishaq Jumbe
New directives by President Uhuru Kenyatta that are meant to streamline efficiency at the Port of Mombasa is putting pressure on the top management of the Port to deliver within the shortest time possible.
The President has ordered that Kenya Revenue Authority’s (KRA’s) Customs Department be based at the Port and report directly to Mr. Gichiri Ndua, the Managing Director. This means that Mr. Ndua will drive the turn-around with no excuse that has been the norm in the past of frustration from other government agencies that take part in facilitation of faster cargo clearance.
The new directives come after a consultative meeting between the President and all Government agencies that are involved in cargo clearance at State House in Nairobi.
Sources confirmed to Coast This Week that the directives now put pressure on Mr. Ndua and that his job is already on the line should there be no turn-around in a month’s time. The spotlight is now on the MD whose contract was renewed by the former Transport Minister Amos Kimunya before the lapse of the last Government.
The new vigour by the Jubilee Government is underlined by a visit by Uhuru when he was still President-elect and those that worked with him at Treasury, when he was Minister, saying that he is keen on making Mombasa Port competitive.
“He has always been concerned why the Port was not efficient and he is determined to have it work soonest,” said a close aide to the President, who wished not to be named as he is not authorized to speak on behalf of the President.
The President is also believed to be ready to overhaul the Port management should they fail to implement the new directives.
At the same time, lobbying for the Chairman of the KPA Board of Directors is in high gear after the expected lapse of the current chairman, Mr. Shukri Barmadi’s tenure. He has served three terms and during his time he has spearheaded notable developments at the port including the ongoing construction of the second Container Terminal. It is not clear if he is interested in seeking the chairmanship again.
The new 24-hour operations directive also puts banks and clearing and forwarding companies on their toes with threats that should they be seen to be an impediment, their operating licenses would be withdrawn.
Meantime, in the raft of proposed changes, the Head of State also ordered the immediate digitization of the clearing process and the modernization of weighing of cargo. He further ordered the upgrading of Simba system and fast-tracking of the single window system that will automate the clearing process.
The President wants the Transshipment Bond abolished with immediate effect. He further said Clearing and Forwarding Service companies and transit sheds located inside the Port should be removed to ease congestion. Many local bigwigs have sheds and CFS’s within the Port.
“It is a nightmare directive by the President. It was unthinkable two months ago that the CFS’ and sheds which are owned by some of the richest and well connected individuals in Mombasa would be removed from the Port area,” said an employee of one of the CFS’.
President Kenyatta said preferential treatment will be given to goods that are pre-certified and issued with certificates of conformity from the port of origin as opposed to those which will not have been certified.
The Head of State further said that a KEBS laboratory in Mombasa should be in place by 2014 to avoid relying on the laboratory in Nairobi which causes delays.
To ease traffic congestion, President Kenyatta said the Government will prioritize the construction of a dual carriageway from Changamwe to Jomvu.
The President also ordered the formation of a special committee tasked with the responsibility of rejuvenating the railway transport system so as to accommodate more cargo, saying this will also reduce destruction of roads as well as road carnage.
He said weighbridges will also be modernized, adding that container goods weighed at Mariakani and with untampered seal will be allowed to travel to Malaba without further inspection at police roadblocks.
The President pointed out that roadblocks will be replaced with mobile traffic surveillance. In this regard, President Kenyatta urged the private sector to support the electronic vehicle tracking system to take effect without further delay.”
KPA Public Relations Manager Mr. Bernard Osero said the port is ready to handle the directive and believe they have the capacity to improve for the better.
“It is a positive move that is going to improve the effectiveness of the port and ease congestion in a big way. The president’s intervention is very timely. We at the port were able to implement the retired president’s Kibaki’s directive on 24 hour operations without a hitch and we are equally ready to implement what the president ordered,” he said in an interview.
He confirmed that meetings have been held to fast track the president’s edict and already the groundwork to accommodate the Commissioner of Customs and all the other players are being put in place.
“Kenya is very strategic and the port in particular is a government facility and therefore it is in order to have the Presidents involvement without the media reading mischief in instruction,” he said.
Mr. Wellington Kiverenge, the acting Kenya Transport Association (KTA) CEO said that he was positive that the move will ease congestion at the port. “We laud the president for stepping in to help the users of the port. With the banks and the clearing firms threatened with license revocation, the process should be easier now as opposed to what they were used to having in the past,” he said.
He said his members, with trucks estimated at 10,000 are looking forward to an effective 24 hour service.