Coastal fishermen have received a major boost following the commissioning of motor vehicles and motor cycles in a Sh10-billion project by the Kenyan Government working in partnership with World Bank.
The Kenya Maritime Fisheries Socio-economic project (KEMFSED) supported by World Bank, is aimed at boosting incomes of local fishing communities in the next five years.
Launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta last year, the project seeks to improve fishermen’s income by increasing their catch and reducing post-harvest loses.
KEMFSED launched an implementation phase which saw the commissioning of 26 motor vehicles and 44 motorcycles, which will aid in the logistics and project activities involved in the service delivery.
The project is set to kick-off in the five coastal counties of Mombasa, Kilifi, Lamu, Tana River and Kwale counties.
Speaking during the ceremony at Kenya Fishing Industries Corporation, Liwatoni, the Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Lawrence Omuhaka, said the project will provide an opportunity to local residents through the creation of jobs, generate investment, increase tax revenue and thus improve their livelihoods.
Omuhaka expressed his gratitude to all the stakeholders involved in implementation of the project and further emphasized the devolution benefits involved in the working together between the national and county governments.
“As the National Government, we call for continuation of this collaboration and partnership and the objectivity of such an investment program as this will see a substantial value addition in our country’s blue economy,” he said.
He added that the Sh10 billion projects will also contribute to the diversification of incomes which would solve some of the problems the coastal people are facing.
“I am convinced that these motor vehicles and motorcycles, will open another chapter for fast-tracking project implementation and its contribution to the realization of the goals for which the project is intended,” said Omuhaka.
He further thanked World Bank, stating that the partnership supports Kenya’s Agricultural Development Agenda specifically the Blue Economy, adding that it will go a long way to augment the financial resources provided by the government towards fisheries management.
Present at the event was the Principal Secretary Department of Fisheries, Aquaculture and the Blue Economy, Dr. Francis Owino, who stressed the need for proper management of the project, noting that the allocated resources aligned to the benefits of the fisher-folk communities and other value chain players should be well utilized.
Owino said that the project will cater for employment in the region and boost the awareness of the blue economy among the youth which will see an increment in the exploitation of Maritime courses.
He urged the youth to turn out for maritime courses and training saying they will boost their skills in the sector.
In a bid to address the issue of title deeds for fishing sites and seashores the PS said that talks are in progress with the National Land Commission to obtain them.
Mombasa Deputy County Commissioner (DCC), Ronald Mwiwawi, noted that with so many cases of youth getting involved with criminal activities including drug abuse, the motorized vehicles will benefit the youths in giving out services in the mainland hence engaging them.
“Where our people think they have been neglected by the government, this is the time they feel the hand of the government. We expect them to reciprocate this gesture by utilizing the funds well,” the DCC said.
By Chari Suche and Peter Wale