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DWU accuses KPA of neglect on COVID 19 spread

Dock Workers Union (DWU) has given Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) three days to fix what it calls glaring gaps that could easily aid the spread of coronavirus at the Port of Mombasa.

In a rare show of solidarity that saw executive members of the union who have been at loggerheads for a long time come together, union officials said efforts to have KPA management put in place tangible measures to cushion workers against the pandemic had fallen on deaf ears.

"We have asked the KPA management to ease stringent restrictions on access to the facility, in areas where we feel could turn out to be contagious, but no action has been forthcoming," said DWU general secretary, Simon Sang, said.

He said some KPA workers had died of coronavirus, with several others forced into isolation.

Mr Sang, who was flanked by his deputy, Anthony Odero, and vice chairman Gunda Kaneno, gave KPA management a three-day ultimatum to make the adjustments or face a strike.

"We are telling KPA management that DWU is committed to ensuring its membership and workforce remain protected against coronavirus, just like all other Kenyans. Should they fail to heed our call, we shall ask our members to stay away from work," Sang said.

But KPA management said it had put in place a raft of measures to protect its 7,000 workers and port users against Covid-19 pandemic.

Principal public relations officer Hajji Masemo said they suspended, three weeks ago, the use of biometric system which required the fingerprints of the employees.

Mr Masemo, who is also a member of the KPA Covid-19 Emergency Response Committee, said port workers and users have been using port passes to go through the port gates.

He said that while entering the port, workers and stakeholders have to queue and keep social distance in compliance with the Ministry of Health regulations on Covid-19. KPA has also established 149 hand-washing points within the port and embraced the use of sanitisers in the work stations and offices.

“We have embraced Ministry of Health regulations on Covid-19 at the port, and at our Nairobi, Kisumu and Lamu facilities. For the past three weeks, we have not been using biometric system which requires employees' fingerprints. Our staff wear personal protective equipment before they enter the ships. The measures have received the approval of public health officers,” he said.

At the Bandari Clinic, he said, two rooms have been set aside for isolation of patients who present with coronavirus symptoms. The patients are to remain in isolation until they are transferred. The patients' contacts are to be quarantined at a Mombasa hotel, he said.

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