The national environment watchdog has ordered the Kenya Ports Authority to stop dumping containers in the port yard or else it will be taken to court.
The National Environment Management Authority (Nema) claims more than 100 containers with condemned cargo were lying in the port yard, posing a health risk to workers.
“Their contents include foodstuff such as sugar, rice and spaghetti, and dangerous goods like acids. After overstaying in the yard, they have started leaking, with a pungent smell emanating from the contents,” said Mr Benson Wemali, the compliance and enforcement officer.
Workers have made complained several times about the foul smell.
Nema wants KPA to reserve an area where such containers will be kept pending the destruction of the contents.
“This area should be sealed off and a licence obtained to keep the containers at the port,” said Nema director-general Ayub Macharia, who met KPA managing director Gichiri Ndua over the matter on Tuesday.
“This cargo was condemned, most of it over five years ago, and we want it to be removed from the port. The port is not a dumping ground and if they want it to acquire this status then KPA should apply for the relevant licence,” Mr Wemali added.
The officer spoke after inspecting containers at berth number five where about 20 of them were found to be leaking.
He was accompanied by port health officers and Kenya Bureau of Standards staff.
“We have served the concerned parties with a 30-day notice to clear the containers, failure of which we will take them to court,” said Mr Macharia.
KPA public relations manager Bernard Osero, however, said any overstayed cargo at the port was the responsibility of the Kenya Revenue Authority.
“After 21 days, all cargo reverts to the customs warehouse and we only come in to advise on how it will be destroyed,” said Mr Osero.
Mr Kennedy Onyonyi, the in charge of communications at KRA, could not be reached for comment as calls on his mobile phone went unanswered.