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Government committed to bolstering maritime safety

The Government has announced its plans to carry out a major inspection of vessels in the Indian Ocean and inland waters on 24 meters and below vessels, for the next 12 months, starting April.

The Cabinet Secretary (CS) for Mining, Blue Economy and Maritime Affairs, Salim Mvurya, said that a comprehensive vessel inspection initiative, will ensure maritime safety, urging owners to cooperate, as the government has given a waiver and the process will be done free of charge.

“From the 1st of April, we will be doing a major inspection of all vessels of 24 meters and below in the Indian Ocean and also in the inland waters and we will do it in the next twelve months,” said Mvurya.

He noted that the inspection aims to verify vessel worthiness, compliance with safety standards and provide unique identification, for swift response in rescue operations.

Mvurya who was speaking at Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA), Headquarters in Mombasa, said that there is a ground-breaking move set to reshape Kenya’s maritime landscape.

Alongside key stakeholders, he unveiled a series of transformative initiatives, aimed at bolstering training, safety and opportunities within the sector.

The CS said following the President’s directive to train 2,000 coxswains in the Indian Ocean region, the Ministry has successfully trained 5,410 coxswains, surpassing initial targets.

“We have trained 5,410 coxswains here in the Indian ocean. A decision was made to extend coxswain training to inland waters, including Lake Victoria, Lake Baringo, and Lake Turkana starting 1st March, 2024,” he added.

Responding to concerns about costly seafarer training by Bandari Maritime Academy (BMA) and Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA), the CS assured that Ministry is committed to reassessing and potentially reducing fees within the next two weeks.

There have been complaints from leaders and parents that the fees for seafarers for the Standards of Training, Certification and Watch (STCW) keeping course was high.

This is a two-week course that is an international convention that is regarded as the lateral standard of training for anyone working on a commercial vessel.

Mvurya noted that it has been agreed in the next two weeks, that Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA) and Bandari Maritime Academy, will conclude assessment and reduce the fee which is currently at Sh35, 000.

He added that Bandari Maritime academy has slashed professional coxswain training fees from Sh125, 000 to Sh70,000, enhancing accessibility to maritime education.

Emphasizing national interest, he spoke on collaborating with institutions such as the Utalii College, aiming to synergize hospitality and maritime training, fostering comprehensive skill development.

On streamlining recruitment processes for Kenyans seeking opportunities abroad, he stated that the Ministry is working closely with the Ministry of Labor and maritime stakeholders, to ensure clarity and fairness.

“Bearing in mind this is a directive and inspiration from his Excellency the President, we have agreed that BMA and KMA need to work with other institutions, in order to achieve harmony in training and recruiting trainees,” he added.

The CS said the formal recognition and registration of the Seafarer Union, mark a significant step towards addressing labor issues and fostering constructive dialogue within the maritime sector.

“Dr. Eric Lewa Katana, assumes the role of CEO at BMA bringing new leadership and expertise, to drive institutional growth and excellence,” added Mvurya.

By Chari Suche and Mauta Marya

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