Hassan Joho firm wants KPA managers jailed in South Sudan cargo row

Hassan Joho firm wants KPA managers jailed in South Sudan cargo row

The relationship between a firm linked to the family of former Mombasa governor Hassan Joho’s freight company and the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) is taking an ugly turn after the company demanded the jailing of three officials over the South Sudan cargo deal.

Autoport Nairobi Freight Terminal that is associated with Mr Joho and another company, Compact Freight System Limited, have asked the High Court to jail KPA Head of Operations Peter Masinde, Manager Conventional Cargo Ali Mwambire and General Manager Legal Services Turasha Kinyanjui for refusing to comply with court orders restraining KPA from clearing South Sudan cargo from the Port of Mombasa instead of Nairobi.

Through their lawyer Gikandi and Company Advocates, the two companies have asked the High Court to jail the three managers for interfering with the existing arrangements by releasing cargo destined for South Sudan through the Port of Mombasa to third parties in utter disregard to the orders of the court.

“In the circumstances, it has therefore become absolutely necessary and urgent to have the managers committed to civil jail/ prison for a period of six months for contempt of court in order to punish the contempt already committed by them as well as to avert, deter and or curb any further disobedience of the said valid court orders..,” part of court papers.

According to the two companies, which were exclusively contracted to handle more than 1.1 million South Sudan cargo that passes through the Port of Mombasa annually, KPA has disregarded High Court orders issued on January 25 this year by Justice Alfred Mabeya.

The judge restrained port officials, their agents, servants and or any other person acting on their instructions, from interfering with the existing arrangements whereby general and containerised cargo destined for South Sudan passes through the Port of Mombasa.

In response, KPA said at the time of the issuance of the court order, the South Sudan Government had communicated to Kenya that it had changed its preference of using Autoport Container freight station and Compact CFS as the only companies handling their cargo passing through the port.

“South Sudan had nominated the two facilities for cargo clearance, however, as of March 2023, through its President communicated to Kenya that cargo destined to or from its country was to be cleared at the Port of Mombasa as opposed to Nairobi Freight Terminal. The South Sudan Government has also made it clear that any Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) Customs approved facility should be allowed to handle South Sudan’s cargo so that no Container Freight Station has no monopoly over the process in respect to the South Sudanese goods,” said KPA in response.

Last month, Kenya nominated four companies — Compact, Consolbase, Mombasa Container Terminal (MCT) and Mitchellcots —to handle cargo from and to the Port of Mombasa as opposed to Nairobi Freight Terminal (NFT.

In a letter dated July 25, Transport Principal Secretary Mohamed Daghar said shippers handling cargo destined to the country can be handled by any KRA Customs bonded warehouse and not any specific freight station.

“We have noted the communication that the Government of South Sudan has further authorised several clearing agencies to clear and forward transit cargo for South Sudan. We reiterated the same message that importers/cargo owners from South Sudan are free to choose any KRA/Customs approved facility,” said Mr Daghar.

He added: “We still recommend that our partner states choose those approved facilities which are served by the Standard Gauge Railway and Metre Gauge Railway since rail transport is safe and efficient.”

The fight over who is to handle the South Sudan cargo has been on since July last year after the companies that had been nominated were dropped for failing to meet clients’ demands.

A number of companies applied to handle the cargo and NFT was picked due to its efficiency and its proximity to various railway facilities.

Mombasa has been the main route for all cargo to South Sudan which is a landlocked country.

South Sudan is second behind Uganda as major users of the Port of Mombasa, accounting for 9.9 percent of transit volumes.

Uganda accounts for about 83 per cent of all cargo passing through the port while the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania and Rwanda take up 7.2, 3.2 and 2.4 per cent, respectively.

South Sudan has been doing business with Kenya for decades.  In 2019, former President Uhuru Kenyatta announced that Kenya would allocate South Sudan 10 acres for the construction of a dry port at the Naivasha Special Economic Zone.

The land, which acted as an incentive for Juba to use Kenya as a transit route for its cargo, was meant to ease movement to the newest country in the world which gained independence from Sudan on July 9, 2011.

Source: https://nation.africa/kenya/counties/mombasa/hassan-joho-firm-wants-kpa-managers-jailed-south-sudan-cargo–4356460