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Port privatisation to await new regime – Githae

PORT-OF-MOMBASANAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 14 – Finance Minister Njeru Githae now says that the privatisation of the port of Mombasa will have to be handled afresh in the next government.

Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, Githae denied reports that relevant ministries had started the process which was suspended by the Cabinet in March 2011.

He however said the Treasury and the Ministry of Transport were working hand-in-hand to ensure that the process kicks off once the next government is in place.

“I don’t know who told some of the media houses that I had said we are privatising the port. I said we should have a continuous effort of improving the efficiency at the port even before we start with the whole process of privatising. It’s not a one day thing,” Githae said.

The government issued a gazette notice in 2009 stating it would privatise the port of Mombasa in order to enhance Kenya’s regional competitiveness and facilitate investment and economic growth.

This was however met with opposition from locals, with Members of Parliament from the coast being on the forefront.

They claimed that the move would leave many jobless and argued that the process was aimed at benefiting a few individuals.

“You are all aware that we had to suspend plans to privatize the port for a while when it became evident the timing was not right. We need to ensure that all are involved,” Minister Githae said.

He said to improve efficiency at the port in the meantime, the government would put in place a single system that will encompass all government agencies that are expected to clear cargo at the port to reduce congestion.

“The first phase of a single window system will be going live perhaps September this year. Currently they are just purchasing the required software and they have also recruited staff. And once this is done, that means you will be able to clear your goods wherever you are,” he said.

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“There were days we had even 20 stamps and it was reduced. We want it even reduced further. Can you imagine, you finish with KPA (Kenya Ports Authority), then you again get a stamp for KEBS (Kenya Bureau of Standards), then from there you go to customs? I think these are things we can work on before we even think of privatising,” Githae said.

National Single Window is a project of the Kenya Trade Network Agency (Kentrade), an agency created to oversee the implementation of the system.

The minister also added that the government was working towards reducing roadblocks to avoid delays of transporting goods.

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