Dockers issue 21-day notice over port privatization

By Regina Manyara

The Dock Workers Union has issued a 21 day strike notice to the Kenya Ports Authority over claims that plans are underway to privatize the port of Mombasa.

The Union claims privatization of the Port would see the workforce reduced from the current over 7,000 employees to about 2,500, which it says would affect the workers, local community and other port stakeholders.

The government issued a Gazette notice in 2009 stating that it would privatize the Port of Mombasa in order to enhance investment geared towards enhancing the facility’s competitiveness.

However, this was met with much opposition from the public as well as Members of Parliament forcing the then government to back-track on the move.

Fast forward to this month and the privatization debate has revived.

The strike notice comes barely a week after the signing of the Mombasa Port Community Charter between government and the private sector to undertake reforms aimed at restructuring operations along the Northern corridor and consequently increasing efficacy.

The union says its suspicions were raised after the Mombasa Port Community Charter signing where Trade Mark International, a Danish company was contracted to find ways to increase the ports’ output and efficiency.

According to DWU Secretary General Simon Sang Placing the operations of the port to private hands will have painful consequences for over 7,000 employees, local communities and other port stakeholders.