By Daniel Tsuma Nyassy
Cartels masquerading as business people have penetrated the Mombasa port to traffic drugs and ivory, Kenya Ports Authority Chairman Danson Mungatana has said.
The criminals intend to use the port to engage in illegal business but they would not succeed, he said Monday in a statement.
“The port security will be more vigilant and those caught engaging in the vice will face the full force of the law,” he said.
The KPA boss said every cargo passing through the port would be thoroughly inspected.
He said the Port’s management would pursue legal measures to have those found engaging in illegal business at the port blacklisted.
Mr Mungatana’s alarm comes as Kenya grapples with the mystery of Africa’s biggest drug haul of heroin worth Sh23.2 billion seized by the Australian Navy from a boat off the Kenyan coast.
The heroin, seized last Friday, was packed in 46 sacks hidden among bags of cement that were being transported in a dhow sailing approximately 27 nautical miles from the Kenyan coastline.
The Mombasa Port recently launched an integrated security system installed by the Israeli government to seal loopholes and curb smuggling.
In the last few years, thousands of tons of ivory and other wildlife trophies have been seized in containers destined for Asian and Middle East countries through the port.
In addition, security officers have seized narcotics in towns at the coast.
Before Friday, the Sh5 billion cocaine that was impounded in 2004 at an Italian-owned villa in Malindi was Kenya’s biggest haul.
The narcotic had been transported by a speed boat from a ship anchored in the deep sea.
Before that another consignment was impounded at Shimoni in the South Coast while smaller amounts have been seized at Ngomeni in the North Coast.