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Workers warn of plans to make port private

Dock Workers Union Chairman Mohammed Sharia with Secretary General Simon Sang address journalists at the union’s offices in Mombasa on Friday. [Gideon Maundu, Standard]

The Dock Workers Union (DWU) has accused the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) of trying to privatise the State corporation through the back door.

DWU General Secretary Simon Sang said they are opposed to privatisation and outsourcing of labour to private firms, particularly at berths 4 and 7.

Mr Sang claimed that at berth 7, workers from private firms with ill-equipped uniforms have taken over errands in an area that handles lots of corrosives.

In a statement also signed by union Chairman Mohamed Sheria and Treasurer Joseph Makero, the DWU officials said they will not allow the port to be controlled by a few interest groups.

Mr Sheria gave KPA management 21 days to improve the work environment or face both legal and industrial action.

The union is also opposed to the KPA’s decision to have workers who test positive for Covid-19 admitted at Coast General Hospital instead of designated hospitals.

Sheria claimed 18 Covid-19 patients from KPA had been dumped at Coast General Hospital. He issued a 24-hour ultimatum for the patients to be transferred to designated hospitals.

He said all sick KPA employees and their dependents should be treated at Mombasa, Pandya Memorial and Jocham hospitals.

However KPA Principal Public Relations Officer Hajji Masemo said the issue about privatisation constitute government policy and KPA was not in a position to comment about it.

“I am not aware of privatisation at the port, but even if this was the case it is a government policy and does not come from KPA,” said Mr Masemo.

He said in the last two weeks, KPA has been taking employees to Jocham Hospital because the other designated hospitals are costly. He said about 10 patients are at Jocham Hospital.

Masemo said KPA employees were only taken to Coast General Hospital during the mass testing for Covid-19 at the port and most of them have since been discharged.

“Some of the designated hospitals took advantage of Covid-19 and charged KPA workers up to Sh40,000 per day for accommodation alone and additional costs for medical gowns, masks and treatment,” he said.

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