Nairobi: Importers of goods through the port of Mombasa, especially those from neighbouring countries that have in the past threatened to withdraw from over rising insecurity, could soon rest easy with the installation of an integrated security system to protect the port from loss of cargo through theft and threats of terror. Last Friday, The Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) awarded an Israeli firm, Magal S3, a contract to instal the system, which was to start immediately and is expected to last for the next 18 months.
The security system will automate entrances to the port and allow for surveillance of the entire area, such that it will be easy to monitor every activity taking place at the port. CCTV cameras will be installed on the port perimeter wall, both on sea and land. All port users will be expected to obtain digitalised security cards to gain access to the port.
'The new security system will also help the port address the problems of labour productivity by monitoring all sections,' Mr Gichiri Ndua, KPA’s managing director said.
The value of the project stands at $21 million ( Sh1.6 billion). World Bank will provide 56 per cent of the cost with the rest coming from KPA, Mr Ndua.
The installation is in line with international security standards. Following the 9/11 terror attack in the US, International Maritime Organisation (IMO) adopted the ISPS Code to improve and mitigate against threats in ports serving international trade all over the world.
The Mombasa port security assessment was done in 2002 by an international security consulting firm Aviation and General Security Consultants (AGSC), which identified several threats and risks facing the port and recommended installation of an ISS to address the threats.
'The scope of the proposed ISS covers the Kenyan seaport of Mombasa and the two inland Container Depots in Nairobi and Kisumu,' Mr Ndua said, adding that the training of security personnel and awareness will be part of the deal.
* By GITHUA KIHARA and GITONGA MARETE