, NAIROBI, Kenya, April 15 – Kenya and the United States have entered into partnership to halt illicit trafficking in nuclear and other radioactive materials through the global maritime system.
Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and Ambassador Michael Ranneberger are the signatories to the Megaports Initiative.
US ambassador Michael Ranneberger said on Wednesday that the plan would help the country in the fight against terrorism.
“What we are going to do is help the Kenyan government with technical assistance and put in place mechanisms particularly to monitor the flow in and out of the port things like weapons of mass destruction,” he stated.
The American envoy said the initiative would enable effective screening to be carried out in all major ports in the country.
The program is a partnership between the US Department of Energy National Nuclear Security Administration and Kenya’s Finance Ministry and will apply to Mombasa’s Kilindini port.
Mr Kenyatta said the objective of the Megaports Initiative was to install radiation detection equipment at the port of Mombasa to scan cargo containers for nuclear and other radio active material.
“It will involve training of local personnel in the maintenance of the equipment,” he said.
He added that experts are scheduled to visit the country next week to conduct a detailed site survey of the port. Technical advisors will work closely with representatives form government and industry to ensure that the project is successfully implemented at the port with minimal impact on the port operations.
He said the Initiative will enable the country, which has been considered a soft target by terrorists, to protect itself against possible future attacks.
“This project is very important to us because as you all know, we have been victims of terrorism in the past and we could suffer the same fate in the future if we do not act now,” Mr Kenyatta said.
On his part, Mr Ranneberger affirmed the US government’s commitment to aid Kenya with the manpower and know how on ways of reducing terrorism.
“In this day and age, terrorists are always looking places of soft target as means of transit,” he stated.
Before the signing of the agreement, the Ambassador had spoke to Capital News where he further emphasised the advantages of the Megaports Initiative.
The envoy explained that the system is part of the global cooperation to try to strengthen the security of ports across the world. The program which was established in 2003 is only operational in only 21 ports around the globe. Work is underway at 20 additional ports throughout the Americas, Asia and the Caribbean.
He said that it would be able to monitor the shipments that come in through containers and other means.
On the ongoing debate on the reforms in the country, Mr Ranneberger stressed the need for the Kenyan government to move forward in its reform agenda as a show of good faith.
He explained that the cooperation between the American government and Kenya is based upon a common agenda and as such there is need for fundamental reforms in the country.
“This partnership between my country and Kenya is based on shared democratic values and that means that we expect the Kenyan government to move ahead on the reform agenda,” he explained.
“You are not going to have a stable economy in this country and you are not going to be able to avoid the problems that you had last year unless there really is fundamental reform.”