Mombasa governor Ali Hassan Joho has asked the Kenyan government to hand him management of the port and ferry services at the port city or else he will mobilise area residents to forcibly take them over.
A forcible takeover of the port by a county government would have serious regional economic and security implications as the port serves neighbouring countries such as Uganda, Rwanda and parts of DR Congo.
At the weekend, Mr Joho asked the Kenyan Senate to transfer the port to the county.
“Our operational cost is KSh8 billion (about Shs230 billion) but what we are getting from the National Government is only half of that. How do they expect us to survive?” he said at a political rally.
Yesterday, Mombasa County, through Senator Hassan Omar, filed a motion in the Senate, seeking the devolution of the port and ferry services. Mr Omar yesterday said the motion had been adopted by senators and handed over to the Senate Transport Committee chaired by Lamu Senator Abu Chiaba.
“There is prejudice on how revenue accrued from the port is benefitting the county and that’s why we want to correct the anomaly,” Mr Omar said.
The Kenya Ports Authority is established by an Act of Parliament, which confers on it the status of a national, not a devolved asset, meaning the county government could find itself at loggerheads with the central government.
According to the governor, the Kenya Ports Authority belongs to the people of Mombasa and they should, therefore, be allowed to manage it.
It is unclear whether other counties will step forward to claim national infrastructure, such as airports and power stations.
Mr Joho has in recent weeks come under considerable pressure over his academic qualification, which is still the subject of an election petition.
Recently, Ugandan education authorities ruled that his degree certificate was not regularly obtained. The law requires a governor to be a degree holder.
But Mr Joho has vowed to remain in office. “I am not going anywhere as the Mombasa electorate voted me in as their governor in last year’s poll,” he said.
Port’s importance. The port is built with taxes with all parts of the country and is used by the entire East African region. It is unclear whether other counties will step forward to claim national infrastructure, such as airports and power stations.
Embattled governor. Mr Joho has in recent weeks come under pressure over his academic qualifications. A committee tasked to investigate the award of degrees at Kampala University by the National Council of Higher Education recently recommended the withdrawal of a degree awarded to Mr Joho. But Mr Joho has said his qualifications were approved by Kenya High Court.