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Over 7,000 KPA workers to undergo drug tests

Containers at Mombasa Terminal 2 before being dispatched to inland container depots. [Omondi Onyango, Standard]

All port workers will be subjected to daily random alcohol and drug tests in new stringent protocols announced by Kenya Ports Authority (KPA).

The move is meant to reduce cases of accidents and sale of narcotics inside the port of Mombasa.

In a notice dated July 7 to employees, KPA said it would also deploy K-9 sniffer dogs at the gates and workplace to detect narcotics that find their way into the port.

The operation at the port will be conducted by detectives from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), anti-narcotics police and port security officers.  

KPA Managing Director John Mwangeni said that over 7,000 port workers would undergo alcohol breathalyser test and drugs search. 

He also warned that employees who will refuse to undergo the tests will face dire consequences.

The KPA boss said accidents occasioned by the influence of alcohol and drug abuse had resulted in deaths, injuries and damage to port equipment and hence negatively affected port productivity.

“Post-accident alcohol and substance testing shall be administered to check whether an employee’s actions are impaired due to influence of alcohol, drugs and other substances. A refusal to undergo tests and search constitutes a breach of the KPA Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Policy,” said the MD.  

DWU Secretary General Simon Sang. [Kelvin Karani, Standard]

Mr Mwangemi did not reveal the number of accidents occasioned by the influence of alcohol and drugs, but past reports paint a grim picture.

A KPA Annual Safety Report states that the port of Mombasa recorded 378 accidents in 2013.

Of those numbers, 325 involved handling operations and 53 involved injuries to personnel. KPA says these accidents resulted in high cost of repair or replacement of equipment, payment of cargo claims, lost man-hours and medical bills.

KPA top managers said yesterday that an analysis of most of the accidents that happened either at the port or the dry ports indicate that the root cause was either drug and substance abuse, alcoholism or negligence. 

Yesterday the Dock Workers Union (DWU) described the number of accidents inside the port and Nairobi Inland Container Terminal (ICD) as alarming.

In a letter to the KPA Director dated June 27, this year, DWU Secretary General Simon Sang cited three recent accidents at the port terminal, another at berth number five and at the ICD in Nairobi.

“This has so far claimed five lives in a span of 12 months or thereabout. This cannot be allowed to continue anymore,” Sang protested.

Yesterday, Sang called for the setting up of a committee to investigate the cause of accidents at Mombasa port and inland container depots in the last four years.