Transport sector key to delivering Covid-19 vaccines

In Summary

•The logistics and transport sector were not spared by the virus.

•At some point borders were closed off, quarantine and curfews hindered free movement of essential goods which is our mainstay.

A medic holds a bottle labelled Vaccine Covid-19.
A medic holds a bottle labelled Vaccine Covid-19.
Image: FILE

2020 was a life-altering year for everyone in the globe because of the outbreak of the Coronavirus that has threatened human existence and changed the way we live, including how we conduct business.

Working from home became a way of life for many although this situation was not possible for many of us in the logistics industry. We had to make sure goods were moving from production to customers through the most extraordinary circumstances.

The logistics and transport sector were not spared by the virus because at some point borders were closed off, quarantine and curfews hindered free movement of essential goods which is our mainstay.

Despite getting special licenses from the government to operate during curfew hours, there was a dip in demand for haulage services, meaning the value of the goods and services produced within the country in the second quarter fell by 5.3%, according to data from Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.

The biggest effect however, was the loss of human life. Like everyone else in the world, we have lost colleagues in the ports, at the airports and drivers who get produce from farms. The emotional cost of the virus is something that will take years to recover from because everyone in the world is either grieving for a loved one lost to the virus or living in fear of catching it themselves.

Operating under these circumstances is nothing short of a miracle and I am amazed by human resilience, because even as we take all the necessary precautions, life has to go on. Trade has to go on.

I am glad that we get to play a part in the recovery of Kenya’s economy as Mitchell Cotts. One of my proudest moments in 2020 was the opening of our Air Cargo Terminal at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport that started operating in September.

The semi-automated facility is designed to handle varied types of perishable cargo and has a capacity of 9000sq metres of warehousing space and can handle up to 150,000 tonnes per annum.

I believe the terminal will be instrumental in bringing the Coronavirus vaccines into the country. We are set and ready to spring to action when the government begins placing orders and administering the vaccines.

So far, almost all the vaccines developed need ultra-cold temperatures to transport and store. We plan to work with all the carriers in facilitating handling and movement to final destination.

Partnerships and collaboration for the greater good is the only way we will defeat Coronavirus. Unicef recently announced details of a massive operation to deliver Covid-19 vaccines to Kenya and other developing countries.

At least 500 million syringes will be delivered ahead of the vaccines this year. This is said to be the largest and fastest such operation ever undertaken. Mitchell Cotts will be at hand to ensure that it is a success for the sake of our future and that of our children.

Our aim as we go into 2021 is to make sure that even as we work to recover the footing we lost last year, we will continue to provide our customers with efficient, timely and cost-effective cargo handling services.

We will continue investing heavily in infrastructure by constantly expanding our structures, equipment and services to meet all our clients’ dynamic needs.

The writer is the Managing Director, Mitchell Cotts