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New identification system introduced on water vessels

Kenya Maritimes Authority (KMA) has introduced a new identification system of water vessels across the Coast region to beef up security.

Last week, the Authority started a public participation programme of the new system along Kilifi beaches to get the general public and vessel owners on board for learning, sensitization and registration.

Kilifi Central Beach Management Unit (BMU), Coast Lower Region Coordinator, Alex Munga, said the new system will see all water vessels have a unique number plate.

“The new system of identification will capture all the information that was being issued by the Kenya Fisheries Services and other agencies to identify the boats. We are scraping previous registration numbers,” he revealed, when addressing vessel owners during the public participation exercise, at the Kilifi Old ferry area.

Munga added that the new registration numbers are unique and easy to monitor boats, ships, hovercraft and submarines off-shore which will help to boost security.

“The upcoming process of identification and registration of water vessels was triggered by insecurity, cases of contraband, and infiltration of small arms through the sea. We have to be in a position as a country and as security agencies to have a tool to identify a vessel as a Kenyan vessel. When we have the registration number then we can hold someone accountable,” he said.

The number plates will have different colour codes that are intended to designate trade for each and every vessel on the waters.

Purple colour is for cargo vessels, orange for passengers, yellow will be used to identify tourists’ vessels and colour green will be for passengers.

The number plates will also have the Kenyan flag which marks the security flag.

The public participation exercise also involved the Kenya Coast Guard Service (KCGS), Kenya Fisheries Service (KFS), and also the County Government.

He said the views from vessel owners, vessel operators, and fishermen will be incorporated to improve the design of the number plate.

Vessel owners and the general public listening to a presentation from the Kenya Marine Authority officials, during the new identification system public participation programme. Photo by Jackson Msanzu

Munga added that generating the new identification numbers for water vessels is not an idea that was formulated by the KMA but the authority is implementing the law that requires all equipment to be registered.

He said the identification numbers generating process was facilitated by the Kenya Coast Guard Service (KCGS), National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA), Tourism Regulatory Authority (TRA), Kenya Prisons department, and the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA).

Munga advised fishermen and other individuals who own boats and other water vessels to start the registration process for their equipment.

He said those that are already registered with KMA will not be required to pay but new applicants will be charged an amount that is set to be determined by the government.

Mr Munga said the team has not come-up with legislation that will guide the action that will be taken against the defaulters. However, he warned vessel owners that there will be no vessel that will be allowed in the water without an identification number.

“I cannot speak about the legal actions to be taken on the defaulters right now. What I am aware of is that all the water vessels must be registered and identified in which region and country they are coming from,” he added.

Chairperson, Kilifi Central Beach Management Unit, Henry Chiko, lauded the move by the government to identify the water vessels to curb insecurity.

However, Mr Chiko asked KMA to give fishermen at least six months to look for funds that can cater for the registration process.

“The move by the government is commendable, but we say KMA should not harass poor fishermen but give us ample time to look for money for registration,” he said, when addressing the media during a public participation exercise of the new system at Kilifi Old Ferry.

By Jackson Msanzu

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