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The port of Mombasa is likely to be overtaken by the Dar port in Tanzania and lose out on opportunities for the country, due continued opposition to privatisation of services meant to improve efficiency.
Mr Michael Kamau, ministry of Roads permanent secretary, said the country stood a good chance to benefit from the growth of countries in the East African region, but this could be frittered away by failure to improve services.
“If we improve roads without improving services to the port as we debate on privatisation, we are likely to be left behind with an empty port,” he told private sector players at a workshop held in Nairobi on Thursday.
Kenya Private Sector Alliance chairman, Mr Patrick Obath, said privatisation had improved efficiency in many ports around the world.
“Privatisation is taking place everywhere and getting the required efficiency,” he said.
However, the manner in which the issue was introduced was wrong, hence the resistance, he added.
Privatisation of port services has faced resistance from the Kenya Dock Workers Union over fear that it will lead to loss of jobs.
Mr Kamau said the government had allocated Sh104 billion for road construction and major projects were at various levels, but warned that the country might end up not reaping the full benefits because of inefficiency at the port.
“There will be nothing to prevent countries in the region from using the southern corridor which runs from Dar es salaam through Burundi and Rwanda,” he said.
The minister for Roads, Franklin Bett, said the government could be forced to put a time limit on the Rift Valley Railways to fix the railway line to ease congestion and destruction of roads in the country.
He said the road network is being destroyed by trucks transporting heavy cargo.
According to government estimates, over 90 per cent of cargo is transported by road.
“We might be forced to put a time limit for the containers on the roads to be on the railways in the next 12 months. We might have to remove the load on the roads to reduce damage and cost of repair,” he said.
He added that the government has provided Sh27 million to every constituency to improve rural roads.
PARASTATAL heads who signed the Mombasa port community charter risk being sacked if their agencies do not deliver on the contents of the new entity. The charter signed between the government and the private sector aims at improving the movement of cargo from the port into hinterland