All port workers will be subjected to daily random alcohol and drug testing under strict new protocols announced by the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA).
This decision aims to reduce the number of accidents and the sale of narcotics inside the port of Mombasa.
In a July 7 notice to employees, KPA said it will also deploy K-9 sniffer dogs at gates and in the workplace to detect narcotics that find their way into the port.
The port operation will be carried out by detectives from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), anti-narcotics police and port security officers.
KPA chief executive John Mwangeni said more than 7,000 port workers would be tested for alcohol and drugs.
He also warned that employees who refuse to submit to the tests will face dire consequences.
The KPA boss said accidents caused by the influence of alcohol and drug abuse have led to fatalities, injuries and damage to port equipment and thus negatively affected port productivity.
“Post-crash alcohol and substance testing should be administered to verify whether an employee’s actions are impaired due to the influence of alcohol, drugs and other substances. A refusal to submit to test and search is a violation of the KPA’s alcohol and drug abuse prevention policy,” the MD said.
Mr Mwangemi did not reveal the number of accidents caused by the influence of alcohol and drugs, but earlier reports paint a grim picture.
An annual safety report from KPA indicates that the Port of Mombasa recorded 378 accidents in 2013.
Of this number, 325 concerned handling operations and 53 bodily injuries. According to the KPA, these accidents resulted in high costs for repairing or replacing equipment, paying freight claims, lost work hours and medical bills.
Senior KPA officials said yesterday that an analysis of most accidents at the port or dry ports indicated the root cause was either drug abuse, alcoholism or neglect.
Yesterday, the Dock Workers Union (DWU) described as alarming the number of accidents inside the port and the Nairobi Inland Container Terminal (ICD).
In a letter to the director of KPA dated June 27 this year, DWU General Secretary Simon Sang cited three recent accidents at the port terminal, another at pier number five and the ICD in Nairobi.
“This has so far claimed the lives of five people in the space of around 12 months. This cannot continue,” Sang protested.
Sang yesterday called for the establishment of a committee to investigate the cause of accidents at Mombasa port and inland container depots over the past four years.