• He pointed out that their conduct will determine the demand for Kenyan maritime professionals by international shipping lines.
• The President narrated the good old days when Kenya used to be the leading regional source market for seafarers, serving major shipping lines across the world.
President Uhuru Kenyatta on Thursday challenged the 350 newly hired seafarers to be good brand ambassadors of the nation.
He pointed out that their conduct will determine the demand for Kenyan maritime professionals by international shipping lines.
"To the new recruits that we are commissioning today, let me remind you that you sail out as our ambassadors. How many more Kenyans are recruited in the future will, to a large extent, depend on the image of Kenya you project abroad," he said.
Uhuru spoke during the flag-off ceremony of the seafarers at the Kenya Maritime Academy in Mombasa.
The 350 were recently recruited by Atlanta-based Celebrity Cruises.
The President narrated the good old days when Kenya used to be the leading regional source market for seafarers, serving major shipping lines across the world.
"I remember the many Kenyans who used to come here with good money after serving abroad. We wish you the very best as you embark on your new career."
He added," We recall that in the early 70s we used to have more than 10,000 seafarers as a country, and these were men and women who actually breathed life not only to Mombasa but to many other towns in our country."
He regretted that mismanagement of the sector has reduced the regional source market.
Uhuru thanked Celebrity Cruises and other shipping for continuing to offer young Kenyan seafarers employment opportunities on their vessels.
"I want to begin, in particular, to thank the Mediterranean Shipping Company MSC. Because they came in as our very first partners and as General Mwathethe said, you took some of our young men and women, both of whom I had the pleasure of launching, who have proven to be very successful."
Uhuru further thanked Kenya's blue economy office led by General Samson Mwathethe and State House Deputy Chief of Staff responsible for policy and strategy Ruth Kagia for steering the restoration of the seafaring profession.
"I want to recognize the works that have been done by both the ministry in charge of maritime and a special vote of thanks to Retired General Samson Mwathethe and Madam Ruth Kagia who for the last five years have really been struggling to see how we can restore some of that lost glory."
Before the flag-off, Uhuru commissioned several infrastructural projects among them the new Sh4.5 billion Makupa Bridge, the offshore Kipevu Oil Terminal and the Liwatoni Fisheries Complex.
He said the completion of Makupa Bridge and the opening up of the 1929 causeway had restored Mombasa's enviable status as a true island.
Mombasa leaders led by Governor Ali Hassan Joho thanked the President for the projects successfully implemented by his administration.
With Uhuru were, CS James Macharia (Infrastructure) and Monica Juma (Energy).