State to set up drug test­ing lab in Mom­basa

Equip­ment shipped in in­clude kits to test for nar­cotics. Cops, KPA of­fi­cers trained

The Star (Kenya) - - Counties - ELKANA JA­COB @elka­na_­ja­cob

The state plans to set up and equip a drug test­ing lab at the Port of Mom­basa, a se­cu­rity agent has said.

The govern­ment is in­stalling mod­ern and digi­tised se­cu­rity sur­veil­lance equip­ment, in­clud­ing CCTVs. Among the equip­ment al­ready shipped in are kits to test for nar­cotics. The equip­ment will be in­stalled at the port and at sea.

US de­tec­tives, in­clud­ing those from the Drug En­force­ment Ad­min­is­tra­tion, are train­ing Kenyan anti-nar­cotic po­lice of­fi­cers and KPA se­cu­rity team to op­er­ate the new equip­ment. The train­ing has been go­ing on at the Ta­marind Ho­tel, Mom­basa, from Thurs­day last week.

A Kenyan de­tec­tive on Mon­day said the equip­ment is of high stan­dards. “We be­lieve Kenya is the sec­ond coun­try in Africa to have such mod­ernised gad­gets. In fact, the ro­bots at the se­cu­rity walls are of their own kind. They do com­mu­ni­cate,” the de­tec­tive said.

A se­cu­rity ex­pert said the equip­ment is ad­vanced. “The new sys­tem is mar­velous. It in­cludes track­ing and vi­su­als,” se­cu­rity ex­pert Guy Ma­gal said.

Sources told the Star the com­mu­ni­ca­tion sys­tems at sea have been hacked by well-con­nected in­di­vid­u­als con­duct­ing il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties, in­clud­ing drug traf­fick­ing.

“They can’t beat this sys­tem. We know they hacked the com­mu­ni­ca­tion sys­tems as they did with ICT data sys­tems, lead­ing to the loss of more than 120 tran­sit cargo con­tain­ers,” he said.

But Kenya Mar­itime Au­thor­ity act­ing di­rec­tor gen­eral Cos­mas Cherop de­nied the al­leged hack­ing of the com­mu­ni­ca­tion sys­tems in the ocean. He said he will fol­low it up with the au­thor­i­ties.

Head of Anti-Nar­cotics Unit Hamisi Masa re­cently re­leased a 21-page re­port of emerg­ing drug traf­fick­ing routes, modes and con­ceal­ment meth­ods.

This comes months af­ter Pres­i­dent Uhuru Keny­atta is­sued a warn­ing over il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties in the In­dian Ocean.

In July, of­fi­cers seized co­caine worth Sh400 mil­lion be­lieved to be­long to Bri­ton Jack Mar­rian, the grand­son of a Bri­tish aris­to­crat. His case is still go­ing on in a Nairobi court.

Two drug ves­sels – the MV Al Noor and the MV Baby Iris – have also been de­stroyed un­der the Pres­i­dent’s di­rec­tive.

In Septem­ber, Uhuru an­nounced the es­tab­lish­ment of a spe­cial po­lice unit to deal with cor­rup­tion and il­licit traf­fick­ing of cargo and drugs at the Port of Mom­basa. He di­rected IG Joseph Boin­net to set up the in­de­pen­dent unit to curb tax eva­sion, smug­gling of con­tra­bands and drugs.

Uhuru ac­cused un­scrupu­lous busi­ness­men of col­lud­ing with po­lice, Kenya Rev­enue Au­thor­ity and Kenya Ports Au­thor­ity of­fi­cials.

/ JOHN CHESOLI

Den­nis Were be­fore a Mom­basa court yes­ter­day. He was charged with leak­ing the KCSE exam at Mi­ga­dini Com­plex High School, Changamwe, where he was a Knec agent. He de­nied the charges be­fore mag­is­trate Tere­sia Matheka and was re­leased on Sh500,000 bond

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