MOMBASA, July 21- Operations at the Port of Mombasa were paralysed Monday after employees of the Kenya Ports Authority went on strike.
The over 3,500 workers staged a go-slow in protest at the implementation of a controversial seven-day working arrangement at the port, which went into effect on July 1.
The go-slow worsened an operational crisis at the Mombasa port that was occasioned the introduction of a computerised clearing system – the Kilindini Waterfront Terminal Operations System (KWATOS).
Workers paralysed operations as transporters and clearing and forwarding agents appealed to the Government to intervene and resolve the pile up.
Eight ships were docked at Mombasa waiting to discharge cargo, while thousands of containers and imported vehicles littered the port as the computerised clearance system was still down.
On Sunday Dock Workers Union (DWU) officials said it was unfair for the employer to replace the normal five-day arrangement with a seven-day week and implement the formula without entrenching it in the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).
Simon Sang, the DWU Secretary General, called the go-slow during a well attended workers’ rally at the Railway Club in Mombasa and said it would continue until Friday.
Sang said port workers would hold street demonstrations next Monday and begin a strike until their grievances were addressed.
“The KPA management has refused to listen to us and the language they can understand is a strike. We are going to identify some managers who must go so as to restore industrial relations so far strained at the port,” Sang said.
KPA managing director Abdalla Mwaruwa confirmed the go-slow but said it was unjustified.
On KWATOS, Mwaruwa admitted that the new system was experiencing teething problems leading to congestion.
He said the situation had been complicated by transport companies which had not registered their vehicles through the new system but noted that the management was working hard to resolve the problem.