By Mapenzi Kitsao
Mombasa, Kenya - In a gathering at Changamwe secondary school on Sunday, Mombasa leaders voiced their strong opposition to the recent moves by the National Government to privatize the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) and sell the Kenya Petroleum and Refinery Limited.
The leaders emphasized the lack of public participation in the decision-making process and the potential negative impacts on the local economy.
Senator Mohamed Faki led the charge in denouncing the privatization efforts, stressing the vital role KPA has played in the economic development of the coastal region.
He argued that privatization could result in job losses and harm local businesses, emphasizing that public engagement was noticeably absent from the process.
"There was no public participation done, and neither the national leaders nor the responsible ministry explained the matter to us or any other leader in Mombasa," remarked Machele Mohamed, Member of Parliament for Mvita.
Senator Faki underscored that KPA's significance extended beyond Mombasa, as it has the potential to influence other ports. In his view, privatizing it could lead to unemployment and the closure of small businesses.
Furthermore, Faki lamented the closure of the Kenya Refinery in 2013, which he argued had resulted in the loss of many jobs. "If only the Kenya Refineries were still running, many people would be employed while others would be conducting their small businesses," he added.
Speaker of the National Assembly, Moses Wetangula, was also present at the event and promised to convey the leaders' concerns to the national government for consideration. He vowed to work towards finding a solution and addressing the issues raised.
"I will take whatever you have said to the national government, for I believe we will find a solution when we agree," Wetangula assured the gathered leaders.
Wetangula additionally touched on the subject of pensioning for Members of Parliament (MPs) and the expansion of Constituency Development Fund (CDF) responsibilities. He expressed his willingness to support these initiatives.
In a positive development, Wetangula inaugurated a new swimming pool at Changamwe Secondary School, constructed by the National Government's CDF program. This facility was welcomed with gratitude by both residents and the school administration. The pool is expected to serve as a recreational asset and align with the Competency-Based Curriculum while nurturing talents.
Isaac Asenwa, Chairman of the Board of Management for Changamwe Secondary School, expressed optimism about the pool's potential impact. "The pool will make it possible for different schools to compete and nurture talents. I, therefore, promise that the pool will be taken care of," he affirmed.
Senator Mohamed Faki highlighted that the pool could also offer employment opportunities for youth, particularly in the maritime sector, which is currently in high demand. He urged young people to embrace this opportunity and train for maritime jobs, possibly leading to international employment opportunities.
Wetangula concluded by urging unity among citizens and called for collaborative efforts toward development. He pledged to support Omar Mwinyi, the local Member of Parliament, in bringing more assets and facilities to the area's children. "I will request the responsible ministry to support you in coming up with more facilities for our children," he pledged.
As discussions around the privatization of KPA and the future of Kenya Petroleum and Refinery Limited continue, the voices of these Mombasa leaders are sure to resonate and shape the ongoing debate.