SURVEILLANCE

KPA monitors vessels from China over coronavirus

At least 32 vessels are expected to call at the Port of Mombasa in the next 14 days mainly container vessels, conventional vessels and oil tankers, some having called at ports in China.

In Summary

•KPA has been forced to increase surveillance on vessels that have called at ports in China in the past 14 days, their crew and passengers.

•Kenya receives at least two to three ships every week which have either originated from China or called at Ports in China enroute to Africa.

Tourists disembark from cruise ship Nautica at the port of Mombasa on December 10th 2016,Nautica had 591 tourists and 400 crew member a total of 991 passengers on board/
Tourists disembark from cruise ship Nautica at the port of Mombasa on December 10th 2016,Nautica had 591 tourists and 400 crew member a total of 991 passengers on board/
Image: FILE

Ships calling at the Port of Mombasa have now been put on notice as authorities move to secure the Kenyan waters from any possible entry of the deadly coronavirus.

Led by the Kenya Ports Authority(KPA), the country is tracking all vessels that have called at ports in China in the last two weeks.

This comes in the wake of reported cases on cruise ships in Hong Kong and Japan where at least 136 passengers have tested positive on board vessels.

China being a major import source for Kenya with annual imports value of Sh370 billion, KPA has been forced to increase surveillance on vessels sailing to Kenya.

This includes crew and passengers who have recently traveled to mainland China.

“All vessels arriving from mainland China must fill the Maritime Declaration of Health form stating the health status of the crew,” KPA general manager operations and harbour master William Ruto notes.

Other vessel documents include crew list, voyage memo and valid ship control or exemption certificate, all to be submitted to Port Health office at the Port of Mombasa.

Vessels are expected to send in advance or not less than 24 hours before arrival, the crew list and voyage memo for the purpose of getting details of the crew and movement of the vessel for the last 14 days respectively.

A valid ship control exemption certificate must also be presented.

About 3,600 passengers and crew on the World Dream ship were recently quarantined in Hong Kong, amid fears some staff could have contracted the virus on a previous voyage.

Another cruise ship off Japan last week confirmed corona virus cases , as the virus death toll reaches 910 with about 40,000 infections.

Kenya receives at least two to three ships every week which have either originated from China or called at Ports in China, enroute to Africa.

At least 32 vessels are expected to call at the Port of Mombasa in the next 14 days, KPA indicates, mainly container vessels, conventional vessels and oil tankers, with some having called at ports in China before heading to Kenya.

KPA now requires all masters of vessels to report any signs of the virus in advance, so as to make prior arrangement to board the vessel for screening at high seas before they are allowed entry into the port.

“Vessels from other areas and where the master has not reported any form of illness on board shall not be subjected to screening,” Ruto notes.

The Shippers Council of East Africa (SCEA) yesterday noted that China being a key trading partner with Kenya, risks of the virus coming via sea remain high.

“The risks are real. They(KPA) have to be alert,”SCEA chief executive Gilbert Langat told the Star.

Meanwhile,the council which represents hundreds of shippers, transporters and logistics players, have warned of a drop in trade with China amid rising costs of doing business.

“There are fewer vessels and airlines moving cargo from China which means high cost of logistics. This will affect volumes and prices,” Langat said.