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President Ruto’s crackdown leaves troubled Joho bankrupt

According to Weekly Citizen newspaper, Former Mombasa governor Hassan Joho is a troubled man after president William Ruto hit back at him for abusing him during the campaigns, by cancelling tenders awarded to his firms.

Joho who was the Mombasa point man for the Azimio la Umoja coalition that fielded Raila Odinga for president has now resorted to heavily smoking hashish to escape the troubles bedevilling him and his companies.

Word has it, new cabinet secretaries and top managers at Kenya Ports Authority are not comfortable working with Joho or his brother Abubakar Joho.

He has of late taken a low profile as he comes to terms with the reality that the man he constantly insulted as corrupt and nonperformer is now the president.

The former governor is now blaming his political rival, former senator Omar Hassan of being behind the tribulations facing him.

In the August 29 2022 Mombasa gubernatorial by-election, Omar contested the seat on United Democratic Alliance but lost to ODM’s Abdulswamad Shariff.

To this day, Omar blames Joho, who is ODM deputy party leader for aiding Abdulswamad to engage in electoral malpractices that cost him the seat.

Joho, the man who boasts he made his first Sh6.6 million while working as a clearing and forwarding agent at the port of Mombasa, is now staring at bankruptcy after the government cancelled multibillions shillings tenders awarded to his firms in the previous regime.

Ruto on assuming the presidency moved with speed to put to an end the monopoly enjoyed by Joho’s firm, Autoport Freight Terminals Ltd, at Mombasa port.

The Mombasa-based Autoports Freight Terminals Ltd had received Kenya Railways Corporation exclusive rights to use the Nairobi Freight Terminals, strategically located at the standard gauge railway terminal in Syokimau, locking out other players in the cargo services.

The president dealt a severe blow to Joho when he returned port operations to Mombasa from Naivasha in line with his campaign promise.

Autoports had secured a preferential deal to transport cargo from Mombasa to Nairobi over a 10- year period and up to 80pc discount.

But this was against the maximum volume discount of 10pc allowed in the corporation’s tariff book.

KPA also agreed to lease to Autoports 26 acres out of the total 36 acres at the NFT for a period of 45 years as from December 1 2018, subject to the logistics company paying a stand premium of Sh78 million, exclusive annual rent of Sh19.5 million, an application fee of Sh5,000, pegging fees of Sh50,000, three months’ security deposit of Sh4.88 million and administrative charges of Sh100,000 all totalling Sh103 million.

The exclusive deal raised eyebrows, attracting the attention of investigative agencies considering the strategic location of the public facility.

Another company associated with Joho affected by Ruto’s move is Portside Freight Terminals Limited, a container freight station that was incorporated in 2006.

Kenya Ports Authority had awarded the company a licence to develop a second-grain bulk handling facility at the port.

The award was first suspended by the High Court after human rights activist and now Busia senator Okiya Omtatah challenged it on grounds KPA flouted procurement rules.

Busia senator Okiya Omtata

But KPA sought the lifting of the suspension arguing the judge erred in finding that the public interest would be well served in relying on illegally obtained evidence despite the rule of law being one of the national values in the constitution.

It argued unless the proceedings were suspended, it would be prejudiced during the trial because it would be forced to look at and answer the same evidence that violates its constitutional rights and the law.

Justice John Onyiego had dismissed applications by KPA and Portside Freight Terminals Ltd, seeking to have the case struck out.

Before awarding the tender, KPA had written to the National Treasury requesting for single sourcing of the contract.

But since Joho was in good books with then-president Uhuru Kenyatta after the former president’s handshake with Raila on March 9 2018, the company went ahead to develop the second grain bulk after securing the tender.

But now Ruto keen to implement the court order stopped its operations dealing the Joho family a major blow.

Besides Omar, other power brokers said to be used to cut to size Joho and other Azimio leaders at the Coast include Nyali MP Mohammed Ali alias Jicho Pevu, who was reelected on UDA ticket.

The powerbrokers are said to have prevailed upon Ruto to tame Joho as one way of politically annihilating Raila in the region.

The blow came at a time the Joho family has been demanding Sh1.1 billion compensation for losses incurred at their clearing and forwarding firm.

In a letter to KPA, Portside Freight Terminals Ltd accused the authority of refusing to give them business.

“The basis of this notice is that KPA, as a policy body created under the provisions of the Kenya Ports Authority Act (CAP 391) Laws of Kenya the discharge of its public duty acted ultra vires its mandate as empowered under the provisions of that Act and in particular the provisions of section 12 thereof by among others resorting to enforcing directives that are outside the purview of the Act, to suspend the nomination of cargo to Portside,” reads part of the letter sent through Balala and Abed Advocates.

The claim by Portside is broken down as loss of business profits during closure period (Sh13.7 million), interest on business loss on closure of business to September 2016 (Sh8.2 million), loss of business profits March 3 to September 30 2016 (Sh240.4 million).

Others are loss of business opportunities (Sh387.1 million), loss of business profits (Sh480.8 million) and consultancy fee (Sh5,000).

Recently, KRA accused Portside Freight Terminal of withholding uncontested cargo.

KRA claimed the freight had refused to allow importers and clearing agents to release uncontested cargo saying “we have today received information to the effect that CFS operators have neglected to facilitate the release of cargo to owners.

Besides failing to avail staff who could facilitate release, the CFS exit gates have been barricaded to prevent access.” Joho was one of the loudest critics of the Uhuru administration to the point of locking horns with the president before the handshake.

In 2017, Joho was even barred from attending a state function held in his county when Uhuru went to launch projects. During the campaigns, Joho irked Ruto when together with Suna East MP Junet Mohamed shared a video clip purporting to show Ruto making hate remarks at a rally.

The action saw UDA party appeal to the National Cohesion and Integration Commission to probe Joho. What is making Joho’s change of fortunes even more unbearable being that he had in the runup to the August elections been celebrating in the assumption that he would become Lands minister in Raila’s government that never was.


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