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Investigators in Mbaraki Tanker Inferno Follow Lead on Political Motive


Investigators in Mombasa are fast zeroing in on several theories including the possibility that the Saturday inferno at Mbaraki Bulk Terminal Ltd that injured several people and caused damage worth hundreds of millions of shillings could have been a politically motivated arson attack.

Several fuel storage tanks and tankers of Mbaraki Bulk Terminal Ltd, a firm owned by Mombasa billionaire Mohammed Jaffer, were destroyed during the midday incident.

An oil tanker caught fire within the MBL premises spread to two other tankers before being contained by firefighters from Mombasa County, Kenya Pipeline and Kenya Ports Authority. The premises located at the KPA Mbaraki Wharf handles bulk bitumen, diesel, heavy fuel oil, kerosene and palm oil.

Mombasa based business tycoon Mohammed Jaffer reportedly fell out with NASA presidential candidate Raila Odinga sometime after 2015. Those in the know say Jaffer was incensed by Raila’s blind eye to Governor Joho’s corruption and economic mismanagement of the county.

Before this, the tycoon had been the foremost supporter of Raila at the coast region but withdrew his support after Raila made Joho the ODM deputy party leader and refused to address corruption concerns in the county of Mombasa. So close were Raila and Jaffer that the former only made use of the latter’s luxurious vehicles and homes whenever he was at the coast. ODM events in Mombasa are nowadays tightly controlled by the Joho brothers Abu, the elder and Ali, the governor.

DCI and Fire investigators in Mombasa are now following several leads originating from the fracas that took place in the NASA rally held Friday where chaos ensued when Governor Joho attempted to block Senator Hassan Omar Hassan from accessing the VIP podium. Omar Hassan, popularly known as Sarai, has in the last few months conducted a robust campaign against Joho and many observers opine Sarai may cause an upset in the Mombasa gubernatorial elections.

Jaffer is rumoured to be among the big businessmen behind the forceful gubernatorial candidature of Hassan Omar Hassan. What makes the mix of interest to investigators is that the CEO of BML where the fire broke out is one Omar Bongo running a very colourful campaign on a Wiper ticket for Kisauni Constituency seat.

Previously seen as Joho’s stronghold where he is a former MP, Kisauni is currently represented by Rashid Bedzimba who is likely to be a one term MP. Bedzimba is a Joho surrogate while Bongo works for Jaffer. Bongo was also initially DOM before joining defectors to Wiper. The wave of defections from ODM in Mombasa is blamed on Joho’s high handedness.

So bad is the situation for ODM that the party does not have an formal office for the Mombasa branch with Joho preferring to run party affairs with an iron fist from his governor’s office.

Back to the Mbaraki inferno, the question investigators want answered is if there was any political motivation strong enough to warrant an arson attack on premises owned by Jaffer and managed by Bongo.

Multi-billionaire Jaffer is the owner and founder of the MJ Group, Kenya’s largest provider of cargo handling services. The group’s flagship company, Grain Bulk Handlers Limited (GBHL) owns a grain terminal that specializes in the discharge and handling of bulk grain cargo at the Port of Mombasa, The MJ Group also owns several cargo handling terminals and container freight stations in Kenya, Uganda and the United States as well as LPG Terminals and a grain terminal at the port of Lake Charles in Louisiana in the United States.

Written by Robert

Respected Kenyan blogger, tech evangelist, and social justice activist. Robert is known for his hard-hitting articles and opinions disseminated through his Twitter handle @RobertAlai or Facebook page (

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