MARCH DEADLINE

Matiang’i raises concerns with pace of Liwatoni fisheries project

This comes five days after Agriculture CS Peter Munya toured the same facility and said it was ahead of schedule

In Summary

•On Friday, Munya said President Uhuru Kenyatta has a particular interest in the project and wants it done and delivered in time.

•On Wednesday, Matiang’i, who also toured the facility with the National Development Implementation, Coordination and Communication Committee, said the pace is too slow.

Interior CS Fred Matiang’i has raised concern about the pace of the Liwatoni Fisheries Complex upgrade project saying it may fail to be delivered by the March deadline at current.

Interior CS Fred Matiang’i has raised concerns about the pace of the Liwatoni Fisheries Complex upgrade project saying it may fail to be delivered by the March deadline.

This comes five days after Agriculture CS Peter Munya toured the facility and said it was ahead of schedule.

President Uhuru Kenyatta directed that phase one of the projects be completed by the end of March to kick-start the blue economy exploitation.

On Friday, Munya said Uhuru has a particular interest in the project and wants it done and delivered in time.

“He ordered that we supervise and ensure that by end of March, phase one, which is ongoing is completed and operational with fish landing here, coolers working, and processing done,” Munya said.

“According to what we have been told by those working here, they are already ahead of schedule,” he said.

He commissioned three deep-sea fishing boats worth Sh60 million for Kilifi, Kwale and Lamu counties.

On Wednesday, Matiang’i, who also toured the facility with the National Development Implementation, Coordination and Communication Committee, said the pace is too slow.

“Here, we are concerned about the pace. I’ve been discussing with my brothers and sisters about the pace of work and it is not moving as fast as possible,” he said.

Matiang’i said the committee, which will be doing a review of the works on Wednesday and Thursday, will come up with substantive proposals on how to ramp up activities at the facility to ensure that the deadline is met.

The government has already trained 186 fishermen from the Coast region on deep-sea fishing as preparations hit top gear to exploit the vast riches in the blue economy.

At 142,400 square kilometres, Kenya’s Exclusive Economic Zone in the Indian Ocean is estimated at 42 per cent of the landmass almost half the land and remains largely untapped.

On Friday, Munya said this has to change.

The boats have been christened Uvuvi 1, 2 and 3.

Currently, according to Munya, Kenya has no expertise in deep-sea fishing and has to employ personnel from outside the country.

The plan is to train at least 1,000 young people annually for five years in a bid to bridge the gap that exists in the deep-sea fishing industry and create employment.

Munya said the government issues licenses to too many vessels but beneficiaries, unfortunately, are mostly foreigners, who catch fish in the country’s territorial waters.

Most Kenyan fishermen lack the requisite tools to venture into the deep sea.

“We have that vast Exclusive Economic Zone but we don’t have vessels to go there. And when we get the vessels, the people who get employed there are foreigners because we don’t have expertise‚” he said.

Munya said it is shameful that we look for people from Siera Leone, Cote D’Ivoire, Mauritius, Namibia and Seychelles to take our jobs.

On Wednesday, Matiang’i said the revival of the Liwatoni facility means a lot to President Kenyatta because it is key to strengthening the blue economy.

“Our President has insisted that we not only deliver the project but also ensure that they are properly implemented and that we are responsive to the challenges and needs of our people,”  Matiang’i said.

Munya on Friday said with the three boats that cost Sh20 million, the Sh318 million upgrading of the Liwatoni Fishing Port project, and the training of Kenyans in deep-sea fishing, the country will be able to benefit more from its own resources.

“There will be more cold storage rooms and we will be able to do value addition of the fish caught before we export the fish products to the global market,” he said.

He said their target is to train 1,000 people a year so that after five years they have at least 5,000 trained personnel who will work in the deep seas.

“The salaries are okay. Because if your level of education is not that high and you are paid Sh80,000 a month, for a class eight or Form Four leaver, that is not bad,” the CS said.

The training, he said, does not take long. It is some hours, an accumulation of hours both at school and at sea and one’s salaries increase the more one accumulates skills.

The CS said once 5,000 Kenyans are trained, the government will stop hiring foreigners to venture into deep-sea fishing.

A survey conducted by Kenyan researchers shows the country’s ECZ has enough fish to supply the whole country and even export.

Tuna, one of the most expensive fish, are especially readily available in the deep seas.

“It is that survey that has been done that will enable us to get the license from the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) that will allow us to harvest up to a certain tonnage,” Munya said.

The IOC is an intergovernmental organisation that links African Indian Ocean nations including Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Réunion (an overseas region of France), and Seychelles.

The IOC license regulates fish harvesting in the Indian Ocean to prevent depletion of the stock.

He called on Kenyans to invest more in big boats to be able to exploit the country’s ECZ.

President Kenyatta holds the opportunities in the blue economy at heart and is personally leading the quest to exploit it.

He has directed that 60 per cent of those being trained in deep-sea fishing be from the Coast region.

Lamu Deputy Governor Abdulhakim Aboud said most fishermen at the Coast are still grappling with the landing site problems because they remain under private hands.

“Fishermen do not know where to land from the sea because the landing sites are private. In Lamu, landing sites are a matter of life and death,” he said.

The fishing community is also harassed by government agencies including the marine police, the Coast Guard, KMA, and KPA.

He said the big boats that venture into the sea interfere with the small fishermen’s traps like the gill nets, some of which are expensive, costing up to Sh250,000.

Kenya Fisheries Services chairman Gonzi Rai asked Mombasa and Tana River counties to be patient as their boats are on the way.

Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute chair John Mumba said they have the necessary expertise to provide accurate data about the sea resources.

 

 

Edited by Kiilu Damaris

Agriculture CS Peter Munya at Liwatoni Fisheries Complex on Friday.
FAST PACE Agriculture CS Peter Munya at Liwatoni Fisheries Complex on Friday.
Image: JOHN CHESOLI