KMA to conduct fresh boat inspection to enhance maritime safety

Coxswains and boat riders are also undergoing refresher courses.

In Summary

• The inspection exercise, KMA director general Martin Munga announced on Thursday, will take 12 months.

• The authority called on residents and visitors to areas with large water bodies to be extra vigilant during the Easter holidays.

KMA director general Martin Munga at Jomo Kenyatta Public Beach on Thursday.
SAFETY FIRST KMA director general Martin Munga at Jomo Kenyatta Public Beach on Thursday.

The Kenya Maritime Authority will from April 1 conduct inspection of all boats and water vessels across the country to ensure safety of passengers.

The inspection will take 12 months, KMA director general Martin Munga said on Thursday.

This is in addition to the refresher courses that the authority has been conducting since last year for coxswains and other boat riders.

“Apart from training the boat riders and coxswains, it is important that the vessels are in good shape. Our main concern is the safety of Kenyans in all water bodies,” Munga said.

He spoke at Jomo Kenyatta Public Beach, also known as Pirates Beach, in Mombasa during the launch of this year’s Easter Maritime Safety Campaign.

The campaign is being conducted in Kilifi, Malindi, Lamu, Tana River, Shimoni, Kisumu, Homa Bay, Migori, Siaya, among other areas.

The campaign is aimed at educating Kenyans and holidaymakers on maritime safety precautions to heed to instil a maritime and water safety culture, promote maritime safety compliance and reduce water accidents and related mortality during the festive season.

The authority urged residents and visitors to areas with large water bodies to be extra vigilant during the Easter holidays.

He said the authority has put in place measures to ensure maritime safety in hotspot areas of Kisumu, Homa Bay, Busia and other areas with lakes and dams.

Munga said there has been no water accident this year, pointing to improved water safety awareness among Kenyans.

And soon, the authority will launch the Elea project, which will involve training divers and other stakeholders in the maritime sector on saving lives.

“So that when one falls into the sea or water body from a ship or vessel, they can be saved because once they are in the water, they only have a few minutes to survive,” Munga said.

The Elea project will also train potential victims on what to do in such cases to stay afloat and enhance the chances of survival as they await help.

The director general said the maritime sector has huge potential to employ thousands of Kenyan youth and the authority targets at least 50,000 new jobs in the next five years.

For instance, he said, the economic potential of Lake Turkana is immense and cannot be gainsaid. The youth in the area are also receiving training on boat riding and safety.

“I was in Lodwar the other day and those youth are also grouped in beach management units. There is a lot that they can do to ensure they are gainfully employed,” Munga said.

Meanwhile, KMA urged beach hotels and other investors to live in harmony with other beach stakeholders.

There has been frequent friction between hotel establishments and beach operators over conduct of businesses along the beach.

Both hoteliers and the beach operators have been doing similar businesses with each party accusing the other of spoiling each other’s business.

Some hotel establishments even claim ownership of parts of beaches, saying they are private, a matter that Munga said needs to be looked into.

“The government has for example declared this area public place. No one can lay claim to it. However, such conflicts can easily be resolved by county governments and hoteliers when they sit down and talk,” he said.

He said hotels and beach operators are in business and naturally there is competition.

“As a country, we are always open for competition. So that we can give citizens services so there is no monopoly. There are also laws to protect industries from such monopoly,” Munga said.

“So, our brothers in the hotel industry should know that the boat operator has a right to give his services to citizens and guests too. But as KMA, we have to ensure all boats are safe to ride.”

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