Mombasa Port grinds to a halt after KRA system crashes

Updated: May 13, 2011

Government is feared to have lost billions of shillings since Wednesday, after operations at the Mombasa Port ground to a halt following breakdown of KenyaRevenue Authority’s Information Communication System.

The system crashed on Wednesday after KRA’s failed attempt to upgrade it, sparking protest among the port users in Mombasa.

Kenya Ports Authority Chief Operation Manager Engineer, Joseph Atonga, blamed KRA for the entire mess. On his part, KRA Commissioner General, Michael Waweru, admitted that the Authority’s ICT power system had broken down, and then one computer scanner server stopped not working at the data system in Nairobi because of the damage.

He assured the port users that the technicians would correct the problem by 3 pm, Thursday.

But Atonga said the problem, which started last week, worsened on Wednesday, paralyzing the movement of cargo from the port. Atonga said the problem was inconveniencing operations because there was no active loading and off-loading of the goods from ships.

He said trucks, which were supposed to leave the port within two hours of being loaded with the cargo from the ship, were now taking 12 hours to exit. KPA usually handles between 1,000 and 1,500 trucks a day, but everything has ground to halt.

Worsened on Wednesday

“The problem got worse on Wednesday when the Simba and Kamisa system broke down, causing the congestion you are now seeing in the port,” said Atonga as he absolved KPA of any blame.

At a press conference in Nairobi Thursday, KRA said the system failure was occasioned by an exercise to enhance power supply at the Authority’s data centre, through the installation of a new power battery back-up.

Ezekiel Saina, KRA’s Senior Deputy Commissioner in-charge of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) said the problem which has paralysed the movement of cargo from the ports started on Tuesday but worsened on Wednesday from 3 pm.

“This is a problem that was actually power related. There was a new back-up power installation which was being activated but in the course of the switch-over there was a hitch,” Saina told reporters at the authority’s offices in Nairobi on Thursday.

The power failure affected all KRA’s systems, but the Authority said the system relating to motor vehicle transactions including registration, transfer of motor vehicle ownership, dealer licensing, processing of driving and PSV licences, issuance of foreign and TLB licensing has been fully restored and normal operations have resumed.

Restore operations

“Our engineers are working round the clock to restore online operations among others. The short-term inconvenience notwithstanding, we are committed to normalising operations within the shortest possible time,” said Kennedy Onyonyi, KRA’s Senior Deputy Commissioner in-charge of Marketing and Communications.

Onyonyi said the KRA would deploy additional officers at entry points and document-processing centres to eliminate the backlog of uncleared cargo once the system is restored.

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