The coronavirus pandemic has profoundly disrupted the world of work. It's forced us all to work differently, to find new ways to connect with our customers, yet continue to provide the best in service. For those who work in an office, it’s a simple, yet testing, move to a home office. But for those who work in the field servicing our customers, it was never going to be easy. It certainly hasn’t been for two engineers in Kenya...
As the first cases of COVID-19 began to appear in Kenya in March, the country went into lockdown. And as the number of cases rose, stricter rules were put in place to ensure the health and safety of the public. This included the closing of public spaces and non-essential businesses. But it also included a much harsher measure, a curfew of 7pm.
For engineers John Kibe and Naftali Nyaora, this meant no movement outside of their base in the country’s capital of Nairobi, making their jobs of servicing Kenya Coast Guard’s vessels in the lakeside city of Kisumu, much more challenging.
Working against the clock
The first obstacle for the team came as they learnt to adjust to a new way of working. On the 28th of April, they received a letter of request for technical inspection, with five days to carry out the work.
Under normal circumstances, they would have time to plan and carry out the inspection, which would take around three days. But with harsh, yet essential, restrictions on movement around the country, time was tight.
Determined to get the job done, the team set out to get the necessary documents to enable them to leave Nairobi and get to Kisumu in time.
Tackling the challenge head on
The first step was applying for a certificate from the government to prove they were an essential service. With this, they were able to cross police checks after police questioning and verification.
What followed was a long journey almost 400kms across the country for five days away from their families, over a weekend and a bank holiday (1st May is Labour Day).
Once in Kisumu, the obstacles kept coming. Fighting against heavy rain, strong winds and turbulent waters, the pair travelling from the Coast Guard's base to the site of the vessels.
Despite the weather, it was all hands on deck and the team carried out a technical inspection of Perkins marine engines on all four vessels within the deadline.
With a recommendation to repair seawater impeller pumps in two of the engines and a complete engine overhaul of a further two engines, John and Naftali’s work was vital to ensuring the Coast Guard’s vessels could remain in operation, patrolling the coast.
Putting the customer first
Ken Lairangi, Service Operations Manager at Mantrac Kenya, said: “John and Naftali have shown dedication and resilience. Gaining approval from the government wasn’t easy, and even getting through the barrier patrolled by police had its challenges, but they made it work. Both went above and beyond for Mantrac, working a weekend, a public holiday and spending time away from their families without any claiming any overtime. They got the job done, despite the challenges they faced. It really is commendable.”
With the repair work already carried out, the service doesn’t stop there. The team are waiting for the go ahead from the Coast Guard once their budget has been approved for the installation of four new engines.
“Once they get the funds from the government, there will be a lot of pressure on us to deliver. We currently don’t have a specific date as we don’t have approval to proceed, but it will no doubt be challenging again. But, I have complete faith in my team to deliver the best service and on time,” Mr Lairangi added.
The obstacles John and Naftali faced to serve the Kenyan Coast Guard would’ve been tough to overcome even in the best of circumstances.
Simply put, they went the extra mile, determined to not let life's challenges get in the way. And their commitment, dedication and passion to getting the job done is something we can all learn from.