By Patrick Beja
A project to install ultra modern security and surveillance at the Mombasa port to protect it from terrorism is nearing completion, officials have said.
Israeli firms are playing a lead role in securing the port having recently constructed a control tower to enhance harbour surveillance for Sh700million.
In recent years, importers and international agencies have raised questions about the port’s safety following persistent loss of goods and terrorist attacks in Mombasa.
The threat of a seaborne terrorist attack has grown with the takeover of Southern Somalia by the militant Al Shabaab militia and Kenya’s military intervention.
Two years ago, the Kenya Ports Authority initiated an Integrated Security System (ISS), implemented by Israeli company Magal Security Systems, at a cost of Sh1.7 billion to be given by the World Bank. It will be completed in March next year according to expert estimates.
“The ISS will complement the visible and undercover patrols by all security agencies in the port,” said Kenya Port Authority’s (KPA) head of security Major (retired) Mohamed Morowa on Monday.
The project includes an electronic fence and CCTV facilities.
Port officials say a similar security system exists for ports in South Africa and Senegal but claim Kenya’s project will be the largest and most manifest on the continent and will secure the port of Mombasa by sea and land.
According to Morowa, 56 per cent of the project has already been completed.
KPA General Manager for Operations Captain Twalib Khamis heads the ISS implementation committee.
The project is part of the Mombasa port’s long-term goal to conform to International Maritime Organisation standards and comply with the International Ship and Port Facility Security code.
According to Major Morowa, the components of the system include access control where entry for the port community and vehicles is controlled.
Morowa said the ISS was expected to improve efficiency and effectiveness in protecting the port facility and securing people and cargo.
“Issues of theft of containers will be a thing of the past when the system rolls out. The number plates of vehicles entering the port must be recognised by the system or they will not be allowed access,” he said.
He said the system would ease traffic flow and ensure faster entry and exit.
The project will be piloted at the port’s dockyard before it is rolled out in the entire port.
“The dockyard will be used as a quality control point. But this project is not an experiment. It is operational in many countries,” said Morowa.
The ISS project was to be completed by December this year but was delayed due to the roll out of other systems such as the Kilindini Waterfront Operations Systems.