Bandari College revival a blessing for jobless coastal youths
Heavily congestedIt is also critical that KNSL should be active now that it has been ‘revived’. We must ensure Kenyans are trained and take over from Italians as soon as possible, otherwise we shall have abrogated our national responsibilities to the Italians, and all profits will automatically flow to Italy. This opportunity raises the question; Why are we not encouraging smaller ports along the coastline of Kenya? At one time, India suffered a great deal because all its major ports were heavily congested and waiting periods were as long as three months. Later, India allowed the building of private ports. The first private port was in Kandla and it turned out to be very successful. Soon there were private ports all along the coast of India and this improved efficiency to the benefit of India. I do not see why we cannot allow private ports in Shimoni, Takaungu, Kilifi and wherever it is physically and commercially viable. Why should the business of ports be a monopoly of the Kenya Ports Authority? We need the courage to try new ways of doing business and providing services. The second thing that the President did was to open a new revamped Bandari College. This has been a sore point for many coastal people because they could not get seamen’s books in Kenya and had to travel to Dar es Salaam to get certification.
Bandari CollegeAt one point, I even went to Dar to try and get their maritime academy to open a branch in Mombasa, or do a joint venture, but they saw no reason to reduce their flow of students to Dar. I desperately wanted to send more boys to sea to make a living and the one thing that stood in their way was the seamen’s book. The President has solved this problem with the revamped Bandari College. Let us learn from the Philippines. In 1996, there were 250,000 Filipino seamen working on ships worldwide. This number has risen to 378,000 men in 2019 and 25 per cent of all seamen in the world are Filipinos. This did not happen by accident. It was planned carefully to create jobs. Today, the lowest earning Filipino seaman earns $1,000 per month. In 2018, they contributed $6.1 billion to their economy. Compare $6.1 billion contribution to the $2.1 billion that the entire Kenyan diaspora sends home every year. The Economist Magazine wrote in its February 2019 issue that “ at any given time 250,000 Filipino mariners are at sea. If they stayed at home the world economy would convulse”. Bandari College will help train Kenyans for the sea. The coastal people are dying for this opportunity. However, in addition to training, we also need to market our sailors. Every Kenyan embassy should have a placement office whose sole job is to deal with shipping lines and find jobs for our sailors. It must be a national strategy to place our trained sailors. Next time the President visits a shipping country, he should appeal for jobs. Kenyans with our entrepreneurial spirit will find jobs for other Kenyans – just opens the door for us. Mr President, ignore the noisemakers and push both Bandari and the KNSL to perform. The Coast is in dire economic straits. We need all the help we can get to create employment for our youth. Mr Shahbal is Chairman of Gulf Group of [email protected]
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