Press Center | Freight Shipping Logistics News

Corruption and patronage has been blamed for delays in moving cargo through the Port of Mombasa.
Corruption and patronage has been blamed for delays in moving cargo through the Port of Mombasa.

Shippers have complained that workers take too long to off-load or load containers. Some have to be bribed to do it, yet it is their work.

The Kenya Ship Agents Association (KSAA) accused the management of doing nothing to ensure workers deliver.

“But the truth is that managers have no control over workers. Most people were employed though political links. The moment they are threatened with disciplinary action, their patrons protest,” KSAA executive officer Juma Tellah said.

A source revealed that for containers either to be loaded or unloaded, shipping lines are forced to induce workers by paying “bonuses”, of up to US$2,000 (Sh172,000) on a single vessel.

The source, who requested anonymity for fear of reprisals, recalled that mid last month, it took more than five days to unload a vessel with 3,500 containers, of which 1,000 were destined for the port.

“People refused to work until a commitment was made that they would be paid. It was very shocking because only 118 containers were off-loaded in 24 hours,” the source added.

The target, according to the port community charter signed on June 30, and witnessed by President Kenyatta, is 33 per hour. This means that if 30 containers are loaded in an hour, it should take four days to off-load 3,500 units.

This, however, is only possible through “arm-twisting by payment of incentives,” KSAA chairman David Mackay said in a letter of complaint to the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) managing director Gichiri Ndua.

The September 2 letter is copied to the Kenya Maritime Authority director general Nancy Karigithu and Transport and Infrastructure principal secretary Nduva Muli.

KPA’s operations manager, Captain Twalib Khamis, could not be reached for comment on the Sunday allegations as calls on his mobile phone went unanswered.

At the moment, KPA cannot recruit new workers since the board froze employment in March 2010 following concerns of a bloated workforce.