Panic has gripped the Port of Mombasa following increased positive cases of Covid-19 at the Kilindini Harbour.
The East Africa largest port has so far reported seven positive convid-19 cases out of a total of 38 in Mombasa County.
Now the giant Dock Workers Union has threatened to disrupt operations at the port should the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) fail to introduce further measures to protect workers against the deadly virus.
The Union General Secretary, Simon Sang, claimed that KPA management has implemented only 30 per cent of the directives issued by the Ministry of Health to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The disease whose latest statistics shows that Kenya has 225 confirmed cases has already claimed two lives of KPA employees, while two other staff and three contracted cleaners working at the facility have been confirmed positive.
“Workers are at risk. So far, the port alone accounts for over 30 per cent of the coronavirus cases in Mombasa County,” said Sang, while briefing the media, Wednesday.
Sang want the management to introduce new measures to protect the workers and other port users.
He lamented that social distancing at the port has not been fully adhered to, saying this must be addressed urgently.
However, the acting KPA Managing Director (MD), Rashid Salim, defended the Authority, saying a raft of measures have been put in place to control the spread of the virus.
Among them he said, is the introduction of on-line cargo documentation processes to facilitate customers to clear cargo electronically and decongest human traffic within the Port.
Salim who was recently appointed acting MD after the resignation of Daniel Manduku said the Authority has put up 107 hand washing points with antiseptic soap and placed sanitiser dispensers at various areas.
He noted that staff are also provided with face masks and that screen notices have been placed at all entries.
“Fumigation has also been carried out, especially in offices occupied by staff found to be positive or suspected to have contracted the virus and plans are underway to extend this to cover the entire port,” said Salim.
He also revealed surgical gowns have been acquired for clinical staff and those with close interaction with vessels such as pilots, security officers among others.
There is fear that the number of positive Convid-19 cases at the port of Mombasa might rise significantly after the mass testing which is expected soon.
However, Salim assured staff, local and international port users that no efforts shall be spared to ensure the port remains a safe working environment.
By Mohamed Hassan