Intense lobbying delays construction of container terminal in Kenya

10:19, May 05, 2011      

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Intense lobbying over award of tenders at the Mombasa port in Kenya is threatening to delay construction of the second container terminal which is funded by the Japanese government.

According to officials at the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA), some individuals who are connected to the firms that tendered for the job have been accused of lobbying for award of the multi-million dollar tender, even as the process awaits completion by the Japan Ports Consultants Limited (JPC).

KPA evaluated the three Japanese firms that submitted tender documents in March, after which they were submitted to JPC for concurrence. The three firms are TOA Corporation, TOYO Construction and Penta Ocean. "After one of the individuals discovered the firm he has interests in might have been technically knocked out, the person who is being supported by a senior official in transport ministry of the Kenyan government has been lobbying for the cancellation of the process so that it can start afresh," the official who did not want to be named told Xinhua on Wednesday.

The Kenya Anti Corruption Commission (KACC) said it was concerned about the manner of cancellation of some government tender processes, which ended up costing concerned parties millions of shillings besides scaring away investors. "Although we have not received official complaint over the matter, those who are trying to interfere with various tendering processes should be warned that we are on the look out," KACC spokesman Nicholas Simani said.

The award of the tender is expected to be announced soon since the winner should start the job by next month, according to KPA.

The project involves construction of two container handling berths and a smaller berth for pilots, mooring and tug boats.

Procurement of equipment, two ships to shore gantry cranes and four Rubber Tired Gantry cranes is part of the 250 million US dollars project, partly funded by the Japanese government to the tune of 200 million dollars through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) with the rest of the finances being provided by the government.

Recently, KPA allayed fears that the strong opposition against privatization of the port and cargo handling operations at the port would lead to withdrawal of the Japanese support in the construction of the terminal, expected to increase the port's cargo handling capacity by 1.1 million Teus per year.

During a meeting to hear various stakeholders' views on the planned privatization of the port held in Mombasa last month, Kenya's Transport Minister Amos Kimunya said the loan might be withdrawn unless the process went ahead.

However, according to a port official who is familiar with the agreement between KPA and JPC, which will oversee and supervise the six-year construction, privatization of Mombasa port did not feature in the contract.

"The negotiation process of construction of the terminal was completed in 2007 long before the gazettement of privatization in 2008 and the project was not tied in any way to privatization of the port," said the official in a recent interview.

However KPA Managing Director Gichiri Ndua is upbeat about the status of the facility saying that the authority has lined up a number of projects towards infrastructure investment.

This, he says include the purchase of more equipment including three ship-to-shore gantry cranes, two mobile harbor cranes, 10 tractors and four reach stackers which will create capacity and improve efficiency as we prepare for the projected growth. "Soon, the planned dredging of the port would commence, as well as construction of the second container terminal which is expected to increase the port's annual cargo handling capacity by 1.1 million teus," said Mr Ndua while releasing the KPA 2010 performance report.

Source: Xinhua
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