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Coast shipping company unveils training plan for young seafarers

Captain Musa Bakari [left] with cadets Lulu Chilumo [right] and Fatuma Ridhwani at Amu 1 Cargo ship at Mombasa Port. [Omondi Onyango, Standard]

A local shipping company has rolled out a programme for training seafarers. 

Lamu Shipping Limited (LSL) said the programme is meant to improve "sea time" for mariners to enhance the quality of services.

Beneficiaries of the training include marine cadets Lulu Mwangala, 24, and Fatuma Ridhwani, 23.

Lulu and Fatuma are among budding Kenyan women seafarers eager to conquer the sector that has largely been dominated by men.

Global statistics show that only 1.2 per cent of global mariners are women. This represents slightly over 24,000 women seafarers, a 45.8 per cent increase from a 2015 report.

The International Maritime Organisation has been making efforts to create more space in the industry for women, including through training.

From left, Lulu Mwangala, 24, and Fatuma Ridhwani, 23. [Omondi Onyango,Standard]

LSL Managing Director Twalib Khamis said they launched the programme to offer quality "sea time" training to benefit aspiring Kenyan seafarers.

"We are a young shipping company and in our own small way, we want to contribute towards the growth of Kenya's shipping and maritime industry. "Sea time" training is mandatory for all mariners," said Capt Twalib.

Sea time is the total time spent working on a vessel at sea, which is transporting cargo.

Lulu and Fatuma are the latest cadets to join LSL vessel, Amu 1. Their training will take ten months.

In a recent interview aboard the vessel at the Mombasa Port berth number 20, the duo said the training will change their careers.

"I am happy to learn as I work on the vessel," said Lulu who studied Marine Engineering at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology.

"Growing up in Kilifi, I used to go to the beach to swim. I would see ships and admire sailors. That desire never left me. I am in my second month of training and I am enjoying every bit of it," said Lulu.

She has also had onshore practical training at the Kenya Ports Authority and Kenya Maritime Authority. 

Crane loads a container into LSL vessel, Amu 1. [Omondi Onyango, Standard]

Lulu said she is also hoping to become a marine researcher.

"I dream of working on cruise ships and probably becoming a senior engineer." 

Fatuma, an engineering graduate of the Technical University of Mombasa, said the training will grow her career.

"We have competent trainers who are ensuring we get the best training," said Fatuma, whose father, Hassan Ridhwani, is a seaman.