BY MWAKERA MWAJEFA
The United State-Kenya partnership is behind the hi-tech security surveillance equipment that has enabled the Port of Mombasa to prevent the transport of illicit goods without impacting legitimate trade.
To ensure Kenya complies with international best practices, the port has institutionalised several security measures to deter, detect and interdict illicit trafficking of special nuclear and other radioactive materials.
Visiting the facility on June 19, 2019, the US ambassador to Kenya Kyle McCarter take round the port where he saw installed eleven radiation portal monitors that are used to detect and analyse any radiological or nuclear material entering or leaving the port.
Apart from this, the ambassador heard that Kenya was also working closely with the Export Control and Border Security (EXBS) program to ensure security at all of its border entry points.
The program works with partner countries to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and illicit trade in conventional weapons.
Through supporting the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime’s container control program, Kenya established a multiagency unit tasked to profile and seize suspicious cargo transiting through the port.
The US envoy was treated to a demonstration of how the multiagency unit operates in using the installed equipment to detect radiological or nuclear material and the use of risk profiling techniques and inspection to detect and seize illegal smuggling of wildlife.
In his welcome remarks, the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) managing director Dr Arch. Daniel Manduku noted that the US-Kenya relations has improved the security measures at the port that accounts for about two-thirds of containerized cargo traffic in East Africa.
“We are currently applying this system together with other partner organizations in the Port because Kenya now exports Titanium and other minerals from Kwale,” he says adding that all export containers are therefore passed through EXBS process for detection.
He reminded Mr McCarter that the US government through the White House started a joint venture between six African countries that offered a comprehensive approach to improving sector governance and capacity to address threats on August 6, 2014.
According to him Kenya was among the beneficiaries under the security governance initiative (SGI) while others were Ghana, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Tunisia.
“KPA has been a key player in supporting the Border Management aspect of the JCAP under the SGI and a member of the Border Control & Operations Coordination Committee (BCOCC),” he said.
He noted that the formation of the Kenya Coast Guard is as a result of the US-Port of Mombasa collaboration in security matters and the need to secure Kenya’s waters.
With its 21 berths comprising two container terminals, conventional cargo terminal and a Combi-Terminal (berth 11-14), Dr Manduku said this had enable the port to serve eight countries: Uganda, South-Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Ethiopia, Somalia and Tanzania.
For over decade, according to him, the port has experienced a continuous growth in cargo volumes with the highest being last year when it handled 1.3million TEUs (Twenty Foot Equivalent Units) and 30.92 million tons.
This performance represents a growth of 1.9 percent in total cargo volumes over 2017 performance and an impressive 9.6 percent for container traffic.
In cognizant of the discovered of huge commercial deposits of petroleum oil and gas, the MD noted the facility was in the process of constructing a modern oil terminal, Kipevu Oil Terminal, which will have a capacity to handle four super tankers of 200,000WT each at a time.
“The terminal will also have a gas handling point to facilitate import and export of the important commodity,” he added.
Citing the Port of Lamu under the LAPSSET (Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia corridor, Dr Manduku said the first three berths are at above 65 percent complete and expected to be operational in 2020.
On infrastructure, the MD expressed optimism the proposed Mombasa-Nairobi Expressway by the US government would be a game changer for road transport along the northern corridor which is the East Africa’s main transport route.