The Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA) has launched a crackdown on boat owners operating without license.
In an interview with KNA, the KMA Branch Inspector, Jeremiah Onyango disclosed that several vessels have been impounded while 90 people have been arrested and charged with failing to comply with the regulations of Lake Victoria Act (2010).
This he said was one of the first measures taken to boost safety around and in the lake in a bid to curb accidents by ensuring that boats going into the waters were of required standard.
Apart from standardized boats, he explained that for one to be licensed, they must have a medical certificate proving that they are fit to work in the waters adding that the certificate was valid for five years.
“You must go through the required process, including a medical test performed by an accredited doctor of the KMA Unit who conducts a blood scan to determine the strength of an individual and an eyesight test too,” said Onyango.
Onyango warned that boat owners who were inconsiderate to their designators’ needs would also be arrested.
Onyango revealed that the authority had given out a directive to boat owners and designators to ensure that each of them had life jackets and floaters whenever they went into the waters.
He explained that the Authority has donated life jackets to Beach Management Units (BMUs) to help in implementation of the said directive.
“We have given out life jackets to teachers and students of Maduka Primary School in Busia County and several others at BMUs to help in case of accidents,” added Onyango.
The Inspector said they conduct safety campaigns as well as trainings and workshops every three months to enlighten the people.
He highlighted that KMA in collaboration with Lake Victoria Basin Commission (LVBC) were putting up 24 hours Search and Rescue (SAR) centers in every county sighting Kisumu, Homa Bay (Mbita), Migori (Sori), Wich Lum in Siaya and Mulokoba in Busia as some of the areas identified.
Consumption of illicit brews by fishermen was an issue he identified as a contributing factor to deaths reported in the lake.
He explained that some of those going into the waters were consuming illicit drinks that came through the water from neighbouring countries stating that this made it difficult for them to reduce cases of deaths in the lake.
On deaths as a result of attacks by hippos and crocodiles, Onyango said the only measure was the county government to build quays for fetching water stating they have a mandate to ensure safety of citizens.
By Owiti Cynthia