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Mombasa port moves to slow workers’ infections

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ANTHONY KITIMO

By ANTHONY KITIMO
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The Kenya Revenue Authority and the Kenya Ports Authority have instituted more measures as a matter of urgency, to stop the spread of coronavirus after the port of Mombasa was flagged by the health ministry as a hot spot for infection.

On Thursday last week, 13 KPA workers tested positive for the virus in the first batch of 600 employees tested so far.

“We have taken a number of stringent measures to curb the spread of Covid-19 at the Port of Mombasa. Following mass testing of over 600 employees, 13 were found to be positive and are undergoing treatment bringing the total to 22 cases at the port,” said acting KPA managing director Salim Rashid.

To increase social distancing among workers, Mr Rashid said they have temporarily suspended bagging of loose cargo such as fertilizer, rice and other quayside tasks since the process involves large numbers of workers, exposing them to infection.

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At the same time, KRA has ordered that all trucks entering the country at different Kenyan borders be fumigated and the crew screened before being allowed into the country.

Commissioner of Customs and Border Control Kevin Safari said the initiatives are aimed at managing the spread of Covid-19 at ports of entry and transit corridors countrywide.

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“All cargo trucks crossing international land border points shall have a maximum of three crew members who must be screened at the border points by port health officials. Fumigation of cargo trucks shall be mandatory and special hotels and lodges will be designated for the cargo crew,” said Mr Safari in a statement.

The commissioner added that the measures are in line with national and regional guidelines against the pandemic to ensure safety and trade facilitation.

There has been an increase in cases of cargo crew testing positive in the past few weeks, and some as far as in Uganda.

To reduce human interaction, Mr Safari said all goods declared under the Single Customs Territory framework shall be monitored via the Regional Electronic Cargo Tracking System and all customs related inquiries and applications will be processed online.

Importers are encouraged to use the Pre-Arrival Clearance service for cargo coming through Kenyan borders to mitigate against delays.

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