Monday, August 18, 2008

Mombasa Port Management: MPs talking with feet in their mouths.

The attempt by coast MPs to kick up a storm over the sacking of Abdallah Mwaruwa as KPA Managing Director is indicative of an idle lot pricked to action only because they fear that their personal interests at the port may be at risk. Other than stir emotions of victim-hood amongst their voters, the demands of the Coast Parliamentary Group that the position be reserved for a local are essentially designed to perpetuate a ‘friendly’ management at the Port.

A number of these fellows are simply fighting to keep running personal businesses at the port and the enjoining of their less savvy colleagues in this noise making is just a thin fa├žade. It is well known that most of the local tenders floated by the port authority are invariably won by companies associated with some incumbent coast politicians. These are for services ranging from the mundane such as garbage collection and lavatory cleaning to ship services and to sensitive ones like security and provision of port entry passes. It is also well known that staff deployed by these contractors largely comprise of locals. This is as it should be and it is dishonest for any of the politicians to allege otherwise. Of course, none of them will be heard protesting why the contracts cannot be won by entities not aligned to the politicians, even if they are owned by coastals. Hassan Joho, with quite a number of such companies, found himself in the eye of a storm a little while back when the Artur brothers breached security at the port. His company provides entry passes to the port.

The demand by the MPs that the top management of the port be reserved for a coastal is also redundant because that has been the practice since the inception of the port authority in 1978. It is possible that they rushed into an ignorant outburst when Mwaruwa was dismissed because they could not quite place the current acting MD’s name in their scheme of thought. John Mlewa is in fact a coastal, blessed with a name that is not given to instant mapping, particularly by the unsophisticated skills of the CPG. Having now confirmed that the man is indeed ‘one of our own’, they have now post-dated their demands, saying that only a coastal should be confirmed in the position!

Former MD Brown Ondego is also a coastal having spent literally all his life here, but he has had to suffer the indignant hounding by CPG operatives who could never comprehend how an “O” could belong to one of theirs. It mattered not, that he had in a few short years managed to steer the port around from near collapse. To their minds, such resuscitation could only have the sinister motive of benefiting the ‘wabara’ (non-coastals).

The previous CEOs at the port have, almost to a man, been from the coast. Apart from P.Okundi, J. Munene and R. Breneisten, the rest are clear evidence that, contrary to CPG’s wailing, no one has been “oppressing” the good folks from the coast. The high turn-over list of CEOs includes R. Sajjaad, J. Mturi, A. Mumba, S. Mkalla, B. Ondego, A. Mwaruwa and J. Mlewa. The current board of directors is also largely coastal, save for two permanent secretaries who are statutory members. They are led by Chairman J. Kibwana with members A. Mwaruwa, M. Jahazi, K. Jillo, K. Karim, N. Waireri, E. Konchellah and M. Mure.

The tribal bias that the MPs are seeking to safeguard is already tilted in their favor and they need not continue bombarding the nation’s collective indulgence with their invective. Indeed, they should ferret out their man, Transport Minister Mwakwere, whose turf they’re pretending to protect, to explain to them in his usual slow pace why it is that he accepted to terminate Mwaruwa’s contract if his wisdom dictated otherwise. Mwakwere, an elder of the CPG, will be involved in no small measure in the hunt for and appointment of the next MD. It is him they should be lobbying, even within the private confines of any number of locations in the expansive coast province, if they desperately want one of their own at the helm.

The Coast Parliamentary Group has over its brief history managed to curve out a colorless niche for itself as a voluble yet impotent consortium. It was supposedly set up to front for the collective interests of the region but has quickly degenerated into a vehicle for its members to seek recognition on the national political landscape. Unfortunately, their fickleness and nonsensical bravado will only serve to promote the stereotyping of the regions citizens as lay-a-bouts.

The good people of the Coast deserve much better leadership.


Mcheku said...

I completely agree with your views. That port only serves the interests of a group and those interests are what those coastal parliamentarians are seeking.

If Kenya is ever going to get out of the mess we are in, we must distant ourselves from tribal politics. It is up to Raila and the sleeping dog at Statehouse to show they will not stand this crap and move the workings of the port to a higher level. That port is NOT reserved for the coastal people alone, it is a national resource! They better get with the programme and acknowledge that, otherwise we shall have corruption perpetuated in the port in the next 100 years to come by a select few.

Now, I have heard these parliamentarians saying they are going to report Raila to the President! What a laugh!!

HLumiti said...

Yes Mcheku, the clowning of the Coast MPs is getting more outrageous with every passing day. They say if the President doesnt listen to them, they will 'block ships from entering the port'! Jameni, by doing what? Throwing coconuts at the vessels or holding hands across the Kilindini channel?

They are having their 15 minutes of fame and loving it.

Mcheku said...

Hahahahahahaha! That was funny, let them throw the coconuts into the ocean we see.

Anonymous said...

My line of business requires me to visit Mombasa every now on then to collect newly arrived merchandise. Mombasa is a lazy town and you can rarely find the kawaida restaurant open at 8.00am! Nairobi has people in the office as early as 6.00am. I think this comes into play when finding the right person to head the port

HLumiti said...

Karibu Gream,

For some (romantic?) reason the 'coastals' associate a hectic pace with upcountry people and like to take it easy if only to look cool. A few years back the leaders ganged up, literally, to close down cafes and clubs in the town because they were 'immoral' or 'harbored thieves' or interfered with prayer hours or some such other uncoastal reason. At the rate at which they are now making noise, they might just clamp down again on those who crept back.

It is taking too long for coast to get leaders that can get their grown asses from the ground and think.

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