Front line staff at the Mombasa Port have received Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) from the European Union to protect them from Covid-19

The European Union (EU) Ambassador to Kenya H.E. Simon Mordue conducted a two-day visit of Mombasa during which he handed over Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to Kenya Ports Authority to support its fight against COVID-19.

During his visit, the Ambassador was hosted by Mombasa Governor H.E Ali Hassan Joho, Permanent Secretary Ministry of East Africa Community (EAC) Kevit Desai, and TMEA Kenya Country Director, Ahmed Farah.

The PPE delivery will meet the needs of 2,730 Kenya Ports Authority staff, Port Police, Kenya Revenue Authority staff, Port health staff and sustain them for 60 days. The 2730 staff were prioritised as they are the first responders and most vulnerable dealing with port health, first aiders and handling of cargo as it arrives. The PPEs include Reusable masks, Hand sanitisers, Hand washing points, Disinfectant spray, Infrared Thermometer, Reusable Safety Boots, Full protective PPE for front line health workers, N95 face masks and face shields.

The European Union is the largest donor to Kenya’s component of TMEA’s Safe Trade Emergency Facility (STEF) programme with a contribution of Ksh. 600 million (EUR 5 million). Its under this programme that the PPE delivery has been made as part EU’s wider support for mitigation against the spread of COVID-19 and promotion of continous safe trade in Kenya.

The delivery to Port of Mombasa is critical as the port is the main entry point into East Africa through the Northern Corridor. Soon after Kenya experienced its first COVID-19 cases in March 2020, Kenya Ports Authority, which has about 7000 employees was identified as the epicentre of infections in Mombasa prompting a series of tough measures including scanning of people entering the port and also ships docking.

Making his remarks at the event, EU Ambassador to Kenya Simon Mordue said: “The port of Mombasa is the most important gateway to East Africa. To make this port a safe place to work is yet another important step to ensure the flow of goods to support the economy and livelihoods of all people involved. The EU is happy to contribute to this.”

Ministry of Health Chief Administrative Officer Dr. Rashid Aman appreciated the EU’s continued support to Kenya’s fight against COVID-19. There were 31,015 COVID-19 confirmed cases as of 19th August.

He said “If this pandemic teaches us anything, it is that we do not have a choice between preserving life and reviving our economy. It is apparent that we must acknowledge the linkages, intricacies and synergies between the economy and the public health. We may not have appreciated until now that public health must be at the centre of how we structure our economy. The PPEs delivered today demonstrate that indeed considerate measures to protect our frontline workers at the ports and borders will also ensure that trade continues, and our economy bounces back.”

At the time of delivery, Mombasa Port was running short of supplies of masks for its front line staff. Inadequate or no PPEs for frontline staff, especially for port health and security personnel, is causing delays in port entry and exit procedures.

During his visit the Ambassador visited other projects that are contributing to the fight against COVID19, including the ongoing implementation of the Regional Cargo and Driver Tracking System (RECDTS) which the EU among other donors is funding. RECDTS has an inventory of driver’s COVID-19 tests and issues EAC regional recognised digital health certificates to registered long distance drivers. This ensures they can cross East African borders without delays thus regulating flow of trade across the region.

Other interventions funded by the EU under the STEF include: the installation of smart gates at the border; reengineering import and export process and procedures; the development and implementation of relevant protocols to enhance efficient and safe trade; supporting trade policy, standards and sanitary and phytosanitary standards; policy advocacy and improving e-commerce; and the development of safe trade zones to support formal and informal traders at the borders. This support is complemented by a grant from Ireland of more than KES 10 million focusing on the establishment of a Safe Trade Zone for female cross border traders in Busia. Other members of Team Europa in particular, The Netherlands, Denmark, and Finland support TMEA activities across Eastern Africa region.