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Ports authority gears up for green policy

by Wanjiku Mbugua

Initiative promises cleaner environment for workers, residents and fish

By Tullah Stephen

There is a new way of thinking at the port of Mombasa and everyone stands to benefit.

The Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) has initiated a Green Port Policy to turn the facility into a premier port in Africa. For every port-area worker, resident and fish, this new “green” ethic promises a cleaner harbour, soil and skies.

Environmental degradation in the Indian Ocean has been giving the KPA management sleepless nights.  The rapid growth of the coastal urban centres and fast development of the tourism sector produce vast quantities of pollution from untreated domestic sewage, posing a threat to the near-shore habitats such as coral reefs.

Mombasa produces a high concentration of greenhouse gas emissions from ships that use heavier fuel and running generators while in port. A study by experts from Cornell Group on the  impact of KPA’s port operations on the environment  found  that Mombasa Port emitted more than 330,000 tonnes of  carbon emission credits. Fuel consumption emitted 17,800 carbon credits, electricity consumption emitted 4,108 carbon credits while ships, rail and road transport were the major emitters in 2012 with a total of 133,200 carbon credits.

“Environmental degradation is bad for trade and business growth, especially when it directly affects the health and productivity of workers and neighbouring communities,” says Justus Nyarandi, the general manager Corporate Service at KPA.

It is for this reason that KPA, with technical and financial assistance from TradeMark East Africa (TMEA), has initiated the Green Port Policy to transform Mombasa a leader in the East and central African region in 10 years and a world leader in 20 years.

The policy, according to Nyarandi, will introduce practical and implementable strategies focusing on reduction of electricity and fuel consumption by vessels, trucks and port equipment.  It will also see the port invest in green technology in terms of capital and operations.

Once the policy is in full force, Nyarandi says, the port will explore cleaner energy for use by ships.  “Only new technologies and equipment that are either electric powered or use ‘clean fuel’ will operate at the port.”

The policy, the first of its kind in east Africa, was inspired by a similar initiative at the Port of Long Beach in the US.  Long Beach management was alarmed by the rapid expansion and pollution.

In 2007, Long Beach launched the first stage of its Clean Air Action Plan by approving a Clean Truck Programme that banned older diesel vehicles from serving the port. It adopted its internationally recognised Green Port Policy in 2005 to reduce pollution in the growing region of Los Angeles, Long Beach.

The policy set a framework for enhancing wildlife habitat, improving air and water quality, cleaning soil and undersea sediments and creating a sustainable port culture.  Its efforts have seen it win the American Association of Port Authorities Environmental “E” Award, making it the first harbour in the Western hemisphere to receive this.

Key to the success of the Green Port Policy in Mombasa, Nyarinda says, is engaging the community and the county government.  The KPA management, he says, is already working on a programme that will mobilise the community, port workers, the County Government of Mombasa and other stakeholders in planting trees to enable the port comply with ISO 14001 certification.

The modernisation of the port will further enhance quality of service and management in the daily operations of the port which impact directly on the lives of people.



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