Inside Politics

Minister hard-pressed to explain agencies merger

Thursday, September 17th, 2020 00:00 |
Treasury Cabinet secretary Ukur Yatani with CAS Nelson Gaichuhie when they appeared before the National Assembly’s Finance and National Planning committee, yesterday. Photo/PD/SAMUEL KARIUKI

Lewis Njoka @LewisNjoka

National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani was yesterday hard pressed to explain the motive behind the planned  integration of public port, railway and pipeline services.

The Finance and National Planning Committee of the National Assembly  asked Yatani to respond to fears raised by various stakeholders in the merger process, including the fact that it could lead to massive job losses.

Members of the committee expresed reservations that the Executive Order by President Uhuru Kenyatta to merge Kenya Ports Authority (KPA), Kenya Pipeline Corporation (KPC) and Kenya Railways Corporation (KRC) could be a ploy to fast-track repayment of SGR loans.

Yatani and CAS Nelson Gaichuhie had appeared before the committee to appraise members on the preliminary preparations on the merger of the State agencies under the co-ordination of Industrial and Commercial Development Corporation.

MPs Christopher Omulele (Luanda) and James Gichuhi (Tetu) asked Yatani to clear the air over the move.

“This House rejected a proposal by the ministry on railway levy, which was meant to help service the SGR loan.

I think the arrangement is another attempt to have Kenya Ports Authority help in servicing the loan,” said Omulele.

Gachuhi also questioned the legal framework in the merger, saying it has been done in total violation of various acts that spells the mandates of each of the three agencies.

The lawmaker said Treasury rushed to draft the agreement for the cooperation before looking at various Acts by Parliament.

“Don’t you think you should have enacted a legal framework before getting in the agreement because I tend to think the way this has been done is a violation of various Acts,” said Gachuhi. 

“Another question that needs clarification is the issue of SGR loan. We know KRC has a loan; is it that you want KPA to pay the loans owed by KRC to the Chinese government,” posed the MP.

Yattani, however, allayed fears of job losses, saying there would be even more opportunities under the new framework.

Railway line

He cited the ongoing rehabilitation of railway line across the country as some of the projects aimed at opening up opportunities in the Kenya Transport and Logistics Network.

“There would be no loss of jobs at all. In fact, we hope it will create more jobs.

The ongoing rehabilitation of railway lines will give more opportunities,” he said. 

The CS said the new transport network structure is aimed at lowering the cost of doing business in the country, which would be achieved through the provision of port, rail and pipeline infrastructure in a cost effective and efficient manner.

Yatani said his ministry was providing the necessary leadership to the process in line with the executive order.

“National Treasury is reviewing the relevant department’s organisational structure with a view to ensuring a structure and the staff establishment that will be responsive to the expanded mandate,” he added.

Yatani said staff skills and expertise analysis would be undertaken concurrently with the organisation structure and establishment needs analysis.

“In addition we are reviewing our current level of computerisation to ensure we develop a fit-for-purpose computer-based Integrated Management Information System capable of addressing our current and expanded needs, is integrated with the MDAs, and one that is versatile and robust enough for future needs,” he added.

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