Apr 10, 2014
General
caxias
Container freight stations (CFSs) were introduced years back at the height of Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) notoriety in inefficiency.
Container freight stations (CFSs) were introduced years back at the height of Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) notoriety in inefficiency.

They were supposed to decongest the ports by outsourcing receipt and dispatch of cargo at the port of Mombasa. But somehow like the proverbial camel, they seem to have become a permanent feature despite claims by KPA of improved performance.

There have been claims in the past that licensing of the units is a lucrative venture for government operatives and that they are a hot political currency. While one may easily dismiss such speculation, KPA needs to provide a good raison d’etre for their indefinite existence.

The CFSs have been accused of exacerbating the same problem they were created to address by holding cargo for inordinate periods at the expense of the clients which could be one of the reason—apart from KPA reclaiming its core business—Danson Mungatana, the chairman of KPA, says the leases to operate inside the port will not be renewed.

CFSs in part have a good argument: that they employ over 5,000 people. But that is no excuse for saddling the economy with costs and inefficiency.

It is like the defunct Kenya Post and Telecommunications Corporation, one of the single largest employers outside the plantation sector in history, arguing to be allowed to bleed the economy longer to maintain its large herd of employees.

The new regulations rightly require them to operate outside the port, as it should be, where they can hold cargo as long as their clients do not mind.

KPA, however, needs to up its game. The managing director, Gichiri Ndua, has been subject of warnings to up his game and this time he should take that seriously.

Despite claims to having better and faster handling of cargo, the port does not measure up to international standards.

True, this is partly due to underinvestment in infrastructure that has been subjected to the very Kenyan problem of tender politics. But in no way should he give the CFSs reason to feel wanted at the port.

We support the publication of rules guiding establishment of CFSs to eliminate suspicion that they are avenues of rewarding political and other allies.

The requirement that they should operate 24 hours as the Kenya Revenue Authority and KPA do is equally important and should be enforced. In the past the State agencies have closed their operations at night due to lack of complementary services.

KPA can open a new chapter by cleaning up its act and we will support them for that.
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