Press Center | Freight Shipping Logistics News
Statistics that support claims of inefficiency and rot at the Mombasa port are compelling. Last year, the port of Durban, South Africa handled 37 million tonnes of cargo with a workforce of 4,250 while the Mombasa Port did half the same job with 7,370 workers.
requent strikes by workers at the port of Mombasa, and involvement of politicians in such disputes are not only a nuisance, but might delay Kenya’s ambition to transform into a middle-income economy as projected in its Vision 2030 development blueprint.
Traffic through the port is viewed as an indicator of activity in the region’s economies.
Apart from Kenya, it handles cargo to and from Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia.
The sheer weight of this responsibility explains why the strike by workers at the port’s container terminal, which began last Friday, should be of concern to Kenya and other neighbouring countries.
The striking workers are demanding explanations on their terms of service on assumptions that someone is seeking to privatise the facility without their knowledge.
Port users are concerned over the recent developments at the facility. This is because the strike has severely affected operations and slowed down the movement of goods.
But this is not the first time workers at the port are resorting to industrial action to sort their grievances. The number of strikes witnessed at the port in recent years is legion.
It doesn’t help matters when some Coastal MPs place extraneous demands on the management to employ more locals.
Statistics that support claims of inefficiency and rot at the Mombasa port are compelling.
Last year, the port of Durban, South Africa handled 37 million tonnes of cargo with a workforce of 4,250 while the Mombasa Port did half the same job with 7,370 workers.
HIGH WAGE BILL
Currently, the port’s wage bill is around 66 per cent of its total revenue. The wage bill could balloon beyond this point if the facility’s management succumb to pressure from local politicians to employ more people. This kind of ratio is unhealthy for any kind of business.
We are not experts on port operations, but any amateur in a management class will tell you that multiple agencies in ports, as is the case in Mombasa right now, create nothing but confusion and inefficiency.
They have employed thousands of people who are duplicating each other’s jobs because in situations where workers are employed at the whims of politicians, it is difficult to define their scope of operation.
It has been reported in sections of the media that the port’s management was pushed into permanently employing part of the 3,128 workers on contract after negotiations with the Dock Workers Union.
It’s only proper that the port’s management should have and show human face and for this gesture, it deserves a pat on the back, but humanitarian reasons should not overshadow the original purposes for which the port was established.
The Port of Mombasa is Kenya’s gateway for imports of essential products like foodstuff, petroleum products and other raw materials.
Thus, for the country to become a regional economic powerhouse, improving efficiency at the port is critical.
In the medium term, oil exploration in Uganda and increasing economic activity in the now independent South Sudan will result in additional demand for capacity at Mombasa. The port’s management will not have time to plan any contingency or long-term plans if they are still entangled by workers’ strikes.
The ministry of Transport is certainly aware of the latest developments at the port and also about the worries of port users who do not want to endure inefficient port operations.
The ministry should not remain indecisive about the issue of privatisation of the port, but should act and safeguard the greater interest of the country and that of businesses that rely on the port.
Being the lifeline of the country’s economy, the Mombasa port deserves focused attention from both the Government and the people entrusted with its management.
This is the only way to ensure sanity and positively influence growth in the region.
East Africa is projected to achieve the highest growth, in the continent with more than six per cent on average in 2010/2011, compared to North and West Africa, which are expected to grow at around five per cent and Central Africa four per cent during the same period.
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