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Seafarers call for completion of stalled blue economy Projects in Mombasa

Coast Seafarers leaders have raised concerns over the snail pace of blue economy projects in Mombasa county, thus depriving the youths of employment opportunities.

The leaders say efforts by the state to escalate investments in the blue economy sector may only remain a pipe dream, if the projects are not completed in good time.

The seafarers also called for the re-introduction of government-led recruitment of seafarers, akin to the one conducted in 2022, where more than 5000 Kenyans were recruited to shipping lines.

They also want construction of the multi-billion Liwatoni Fish processing plant hastened and also the Sh6 billion Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) compliant ultra-modern tuna fish hub at the same plant, that was set to be completed last year in December.

“Blue economy is the backbone of the Coastal economy; the project is taking off at a snail’s pace since inception. Our hands are tied. We expected the Liwatoni Tuna Project to employ more than 3000 youths but it has stalled,” said Daniel Kitsao, a seafarer and politician.

He added that they have heard unconfirmed reports that the contractor is being replaced, which may result in court cases that will further derail the project.

They alleged that monies for the World Bank funded Kenya Marine Fisheries and Socio-Economic Development Project (KEMFSED), being implemented by the State Department for Blue Economy and Fisheries are being utilized for other purposes.

“The project is aimed at uplifting the fisher folk, but we are being told the funds have been diverted back to Nairobi to be used in construction of the proposed Fisheries Headquarters dubbed Uvuvi house and for purchase of vehicles to the chagrin of the local fisher folk community,” said Kitsao.

Another seafarer’s leader, Albert Adembesa, also urged the government to address and resolve pertinent issues facing Kenyan fishermen.

He called for the implementation of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 185 on Seafarers’ Identity Document (SID) that Kenya ratified and was also passed by parliament in 2022.

Adembesa added that the document has not been issued to seafarers, despite assurances from senior government officials.

“The document is crucial, it’s very urgent. More than 400 Kenyans seafarers risk losing their jobs on international ship lines if the convention is not implemented,” said Adembesa, adding that the president should intervene for them to work in foreign vessels.

The Seafarers now want the Ministry of Mining, Blue Economy and Maritime Affairs to procure vessels for deep sea fishing, take them for refresher courses and also set up a hospital for their staff.

“Kenya’s territorial water is endowed with fish, there are many foreign fishing vessels that do fishing and sell the product in other countries. We should purchase at least five ships that will employ more than 400 youths,” said Adembesa.

By Mauta Jackie and Abdulrahman Allui

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