According to this article published by the Daily Nation on August 23, 2021, a private freights company whose ownership is linked to Mombasa Governor Ali Hassan Joho’s family is apparently set to “take over” operations at the Nairobi cargo terminal after it was supposedly granted exclusive rights to do so.
The article read: “A private company linked to the family of Mombasa Governor Ali Hassan Joho is set to finally take over operations of a taxpayers’-funded inland cargo terminal in Nairobi, in a controversial deal that has triggered protests from competing logistics firms. The Mombasa-based Autoports Freight Terminals Ltd has received Kenya Railways Corporation (KRC) exclusive right to use of the Nairobi Freight Terminals (NFT), strategically located near the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) terminal in Syokimau, locking out from the station other players who use the new railway cargo services.”
The article is based on a statement issued by the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) Managing Director, John Mwangemi on August 17, 2021. The statement was titled: ‘Request For Nomination Memo to Shipping Lines for Cargo Destined to Nairobi Terminal under M/S Autoports Freights Terminal’.
Piga Firimbi found that this memo does not grant the Autoports Freight Terminal exclusive rights or authority to take over operations at the Nairobi cargo terminal as alleged in the Daily Nation report.
The memo from KPA implies that importers are free to choose to nominate or send cargo to the Autoports freight station as an option among others. This communication, according to the Kenya Ship Agents Association CEO Juma Tellah is standard procedure and has previously been issued to nominate other private-owned container freight stations (CFS). Neither was the nomination a tender that the Autoports Freight Station won as claimed in the Swahili version of the Daily Nation article published here, and an Opera News article published here.
“What happens is that shipping lines will only act on orders that come from KPA, regardless of whichever CFS it is,” Mr Tellah told Piga Firimbi in a phone interview. “The memo does not imply that the directive is compulsory. Those who wish to nominate that CFS will normally nominate it.”
Explaining the process behind the nomination, Mr Tellah said that CFS owners first acquire a license from the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) as a pre-requisite, before they would be nominated by KPA to handle cargo. This list of licensed CFS includes the Autoports freight terminal (see screen-grab below).
In regard to the strategic location of the Autoports terminal near the Standard Gauge Railway line (SGR), Mr Tellah added that the connection with the SGR line is upon the owner, and that there are other private-owned freight terminals that are also connected to the SGR.
“If the owner is lucky enough to get a facility near the line, it becomes easier because when the cargo comes it goes directly to the CFS,” he said.
KPA has this year issued similar memos nominating other freight terminals, including a recent one nominating Syokimau ICD Transit Shed and Mitchel Cotts PSF (both private-owned CFS) on May 3, 2021.
Other freight stations on a similar agreement with KPA include the African Railways, owned by a citizen from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Grain Bulk Handling owned by Mohamed Jaffer, the Multiple Inland Container Depot (MICD) – Philip Arunga as well as the Compact Freight Station.
Governor Joho’s connection to the Autoports freight terminal is disclosed in this article by the Hellenic Shipping News website. An e-citizen inquiry supports this report finding, showing that Khamis Hamid Khamis, revealed to be Governor Joho’s brother, is a director and shareholder at Autoports freight terminal.
While the freight station is connected to the governor’s extended family, procurement laws in Kenya specifically prohibit public and state officials’ spouses and children from conducting business with the government. Other relatives are hence not proscribed in this statute.
Claims that the Kenya Ports Authority granted exclusive rights to the Autoports Freight Terminal to take over operations at the Nairobi cargo terminal are MISLEADING.