Mombasa based billionaire Mohamed Jaffer is moving some of his cargo off-loading operations closer to Nairobi. The move is putting more jobs at risk in the coastal town.
Grain Bulk Handlers Ltd (GBHL) owned by the billinaire is seeking approvals to put up a terminal whose major operations will occupy in excess of 50 acres.
This will resemble a facility near Mombasa Port, which handles grains, coal and fertilizer. Projections projections indicate that the terminal will cost over Sh2 billion. That means it is a project with massive cargo handling capacity in the labor-intensive operations.
Bilionaire Jaffer is a big employer in Mombasa as a result of his cargo handling operations and lately, the off-loading and packaging of cooking gas. He also owns African Oil and Gas Ltd, and he is the only importer of the product in Kenya.
Thanks to the Standard Gauge Railway, this new facility puts into focus the relocation of other businesses from Mombasa, a city that is witnessing alarming scale down of businesses and closure. This has resulted to mass retrenchments and frequent protests.
Many Container Freight Stations (CFSs) including Autoport owned by Governor Hassan Joho of Mombasa, Multiple and Mombasa Inland are at advanced stages of relocation.
Transpares, one of the largest logistics operator in East Africa, has relocated its head offices to Nairobi, raising concerns about Mombasa’s continued survival. Transpares’ head offices are now along Mombasa Road near Inland Container Depot (ICD) from where it is picking up cargo for onward transmission to its customers.
Mr James Kitavi, the chief executive of the Mombasa chapter of the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI), noted that Mombasa has been over-relying on the port and if the that is ‘interrupted’ then everything else suffers.
Mombasa Port was the lifeline of the city, providing several business opportunities from cargo handling, clearing and forwarding and storage which also fed other businesses as eating joints, motels and taxi.
Mombasa’s woes have been traced back to a Government directive requiring that all cargo traffic be transported to Nairobi through rail rather than road. The move has exposed Mombasa’s economy’s underbelly after the ‘dents’ that have been caused by the terrorism which has kept away potential visitors and employers.
The job situation in Mombasa has been seriously affected with imminent collapse of Kaluworks, which is associated with billionaire industrialist Manu Chandaria. Kalu Works has succumbed to pressure of cheap imports of cookware from China.
Other major businesses and employers as Milly Glass Works is also finishing construction of its plant in Ethiopia, where electricity is considered cheaper compared to Kenya.