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Two crushed to death while offloading fertiliser at Mombasa Port

Dock Workers Union Secretary General, Simon Sang (centre) addresses the press at the union's offices in Mombasa. The Union has condemned the death of two workers, who were crushed by a collapsing offloading machine at the Port of Mombasa. [Omondi Onyango, Standard]

Two people have died and six others injured at the port of Mombasa after they were crushed by a machine as they handled fertiliser.

James Mwangi Gathedo 44 and Vikash Singh 35 were crushed to death on Friday evening when a silo bin they were using to offload the fertilisers collapsed at shed 7/8.

The injured have been admitted to Coast General Hospital Teaching and Referral Hospital in critical condition after the 5pm incident.

The two, an engineer and assistant were reportedly installing a hopper machine for discharge and storage of fertilisers at Portside Freight Terminals, a private firm when the accident happened.

Others injured were Hassan Munyaka,30, Keya Buria, 25, Rebecca Maraga, 28, Morris Oluoch 27, Laik Ahmed 25  and Bibi Rahma, 27.

The bodies of the deceased were taken to Pandya Mortuary awaiting postmortem.

Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) managing director Rashid Salim confirmed the incident saying the engineer from the private firm was installing the fertiliSer bagging equipment.

"We regret to confirm that an accident occurred inside the port at shed number 7/8 when some engineers from a private firm were installing a fertiliSer bagging equipment. It is unfortunate that two people have been confirmed dead while six have been injured. We have immediately teamed up with relevant authorities to establish the actual cause of the accident," said in a statement.

Workers’ protest

Yesterday, Dock Workers Union general secretary Simon Sang condemned the incident and called for immediate suspension of fertiliser offloading and removal of the heavy machinery claiming it was a recipe for a major disaster as it was allegedly being installed on weak ground.

Addressing the press at the union offices, Sang claimed the whole area from berths one to 16 at the port cannot withstand heavy equipment such as the hoppers adding that offloading work started before the project was inspected by engineers.

“We suspect the cause of the collapse of the equipment is the poor quality of the work which was never inspected and certified by the safety department of KPA and quality engineers,” Sang said.

He blamed KPA management for allowing the private firm to start the operations at the shed leading to the accident.

Sang said the union team will next week write to Salim over alleged illegal transfer of the berth 7/8 and shed to private hands claiming it should have been done with the approval of Parliament and the Privatisation Commission of Kenya.

He also said the KPA head of legal services division together with the acting managing director should explain why the private firm was allowed to operate the terminal.

“We are of the opinion that the two officers in KPA are supposed to answer questions with the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission concerning the transfer of core business to private hands..,” he said.

He said the union will move to court next week challenge the transfer of shed number 7/8 and alleged privatisation of cargo verification to private hands through Mercantile Cargo Terminal Operations Limited saying that the two entities have caused a loss of up to 600 port jobs.

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