Chinese companies support COVID-19 fight in Kenya

Source:China Daily 2020-05-20

 

Kenyan employees, still working at the Lamu Port construction project, are well protected against contraction of coronavirus. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

Chinese construction companies operating in Kenya have been in the forefront in supporting the fight against coronavirus that has so far infected 830 and killed 50 in the country.

Africa Star Railway Operation Company, a subsidiary of China Road and Bridge Corporation and which is responsible for operations of Kenya's Standard Gauge Railway passenger and freight services, has not only observed the imposed measures to curb spread of the disease but has also ensured efficient transportation of the needed medical supplies.

Aside from transporting the normal cargo, the company increased the transportation of bulk grain, epidemic prevention materials and other life necessities.

Some 58 twenty-foot equivalent units or TEUs of epidemic prevention materials and 824 TEUs of bulk grain were transported through the Standard Gauge Railway, contributing greatly to the economic development and epidemic prevention in Kenya.

Olivia Mengich, the spokesperson of the Africa Star Railway Operation Company, said since the coronavirus outbreak, they have strictly complied with and responded to the national curfew policy and the cessation of movement directives for several counties.

"Each cargo train is equipped with an additional coach for isolation and anti-epidemic materials such as hand sanitizers, gun-thermometers, protective gloves, masks, protective clothing and goggles among others," Mengich said.

She said once a passenger has fever or suspected to be infected, they guide them to the isolation coach, and cooperate with the ministry of health.

"The company strives to achieve the goal of "zero infection" by distributing protective equipment to employees, organizing training, and disinfecting living quarters and work places," Mengich said.

She said they have overcome various difficulties such as fewer personnel, greater epidemic prevention pressure and threat of confirmed cases by the cooperating partners, in order to comply with the government's directives and meet the requirements of the cargo owners.

"Adhering to the principle of guaranteeing transportation efficiency and quality, we adopted many measures, including adjusting personnel organization and changing shift system," Mengich said.

They also increased workloads of all the on duty staff, sending managerial staff to work on the front line and organizing overtime inspection and maintenance of equipment, to ensure the successful epidemic prevention, transportation and production safety, thus achieving a good social impact and economic benefits.

Staff members and vehicles from Sinohydro are reinforcing the flooded bank. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

Currently, Kenyan staff members who are in key positions have remained on duty following the suspension of passenger train.

"We look forward to the early end of the COVID-19 epidemic. Once it's over, our company will carry out normal passenger and freight transportation services according to the requirements of the government and Kenya Railways," Mengich said.

The China Communications Construction Company Limited has also ensured that employees are well protected against contraction of coronavirus in its Lamu Port construction project.

Alfred Mitei, an employee of the company, expressed gratitude on the measures taken by the company to ensure that construction works goes on despite the coronavirus pandemic and that the staff members are well protected against contracting the virus.

"The movement of people in and out of the project site has been stopped, so we cannot be infected, we are safe," Mitei said.

The company has provided handwashing soaps and sanitizers and all the employees are required to wear masks throughout, as measures to prevent spread of the virus.

Sinohydro Corporation Limited, which is carrying out 24 construction projects in Kenya, has also keenly observed the measures imposed by the government and ensured that the work goes on, despite the pandemic.

"We are trying our best to protect our employees. We check employees' body temperature on daily basis and provide them with sanitizers and face masks. We have also directed the staff members to keep social distance throughout," said Benjamin Nie, the marketing director of Sinohydro Corporation Limited.

In April, the company donated 20,400 face masks, 200 medical goggles and 3,000 medical gloves valued at around $15,000 to the Kenyan government through the Chinese embassy in Kenya.

"Many other donations have also been donated by various project teams to our clients," Nie said.

He said plans are underway to participate in one of their clients' hand washing campaign sponsorship.

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