African Press International (API)

"Daily Online News Channel".

Raila and six MPs in row over port boss

Posted by African Press International on August 12, 2008

Prime Minister Raila Odinda join hands with Changamwe MP Ramadhan Seif Kajembe and his wives as they hold a knife to cut a cake during celebrations to mark a home coming ceremony at the Amani Primary School grounds.


In Summary

  • MPs say the port should be managed by a person from the Coast.
  • Mr Odinga dismissed them, saying they were practising cheap politics
  • KPA has been rocked by a controversy after its managing director was sent on leave ahead of his retirement

Six Coast MPs have told Prime Minister Raila Odinga to keep off the affairs of the Transport Ministry and the Kenya Ports Authority.

The MPs said the port should be managed by a person from the Coast.

However, Mr Odinga Sunday dismissed them, saying they were practising cheap politics. KPA should be run by a qualified person and we should not think of such a post as belonging to a Giriama, Digo or Luo, Mr Odinga said.

According to him, national posts in the government or parastatals should be given to professionals irrespective of their tribal affiliations.

Home-coming party

He spoke at the home-coming party of Changamwe MP Ramadhan Kajembe.

At the weekend, the Coast MPs had claimed that Mr Odinga was meddling in the running of the ports authority and should leave the concerned minister, Mr Chirau Mwakwere, to make decisions affecting both the ministry and the Mombasa port.

KPA has been rocked by a controversy after its managing director was sent on leave ahead of his retirement.

Speaking during a harambee in Kaloleni District, four MPs accused Mr Odinga of undermining Mr Mwakwere and portraying him as a non-performer.

Those who criticised the PM were Mr Danson Mungatana (Garsen, Narc Kenya), Mr Gideon Mungaro (Malindi, ODM), Mr Hassan Joho (Kisauni, ODM) and Mr Samuel Kazungu (Kaloleni, PNU).

Those who supported them during a funds-drive at Kadzonzo Girls Secondary School were assistant minister Gonzi Rai (Ford People), Mr Mwalimu Mwahima (Likoni, ODM).

Said Mr Mungatana, the assistant minister for Health: Let the PM respect ministers from Coast region. He said that on three occasions, Mr Odinga had portrayed Mr Mwakwere as a non-performer.

The minister was overlooked when signing a transport deal in the US recently; when dealing with the Rift Valley Railways debacle and when making changes at KPA, Mr Mungatana said. He said the role Mr Mwakwere played in these matters was not acknowledged.

While accompanying the Prime Minister on a tour of the US earlier in the year, Mr Mwakwere signed an open skies agreement with US officials. Mr Odinga witnessed the deal.

Improve performance

Last week, Mr Odinga convened a meeting of key stakeholders to discuss how to improve the performance of Rift Valley Railways, which has a concession to manage the railway network in Kenya and Uganda. The company was given three months to put its act together.

On Tuesday, Mr Odinga announced changes at the port that saw the exit of Mr Abdalla Mwaruwa as the managing director of KPA. He was replaced by Mr James Mlewa in an acting capacity, a move that led to the protests by the Coast MPs.

At the weekend, Mr Mungaro warned that MPs from the Coast would lead a demonstration to protest if an outsider was picked to run the port of Mombasa. He said: The politics of yesteryears when we accepted managing directors from elsewhere to run KPA are long gone.

His Kaloleni counterpart, Mr Kazungu, also asked Mr Odinga to let Mr Mwakwere do his work in the Transport Ministry. The PM interfering in a ministry led by a Coastal is like he has no respect for Coast legislators, he said.

Mr Kazungu said Mr Mlewa should be confirmed immediately. When it is an MD from Coast Province, he is given two days and then sacked, but when it is somebody from elsewhere they serve for up to 20 years in the same position, he said.

Tour the port

Earlier, Mr Mwakwere and East African Community minister Jeffa Kingi, held talks with the four MPs at the Royal Court Hotel for about one hour before the MPs attended the harambee. It was not immediately clear what they discussed.

The Prime Minister is expected to tour the Mombasa port Monday morning. Mr Odinga, who is in Mombasa for a three-day visit, Sunday described the MPs calls as siasa ya pesa nane (petty politics) saying Kenyans should rise above tribal or regional politics. However, he promised to consult with the leaders over the issue and other matters affecting the region before making the final decision.

On Monday, Mr Odinga is scheduled to receive a briefing from KPA officials on the future of the port, according to a statement from the PMs office.

Mr Odinga will then be taken on a brief tour of the container terminal before visiting the Customs Scanning Room. In the afternoon, he will visit the Kenya Pipeline oil terminal and the Grain Bulk Handlers Limited.



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