A section of Kenyan Seafarers now want the government to include them in its key strategic planning on the implementation and harnessing of the Blue Economy.
Speaking during a sensitisation forum at the Koblenz Hall, Mombasa County, the seafarers meeting under the aegis of the Seafarers Movement said that they are part and parcel of the Blue Economy and should not be left out.
They cited recent recruitment of locally trained seafarers to work on-board foreign seagoing vessel as biased with youthful seafarers being given the priority.
''The job of seafaring is not for the faint- hearted. It needs experienced hands, courage and determination. All these virtues are with us who are described as the 'old' and left out,'' Thabit Abeid, a veteran sailor said.
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Convenor of the meeting , Mr Albert Adembesa said that while they fully supported the government's agenda in developing the Blue Economy, it was prudent to the government to ensure that all those who are in one way or the other involved in seafaring activities benefit from booming prospects that rise out of sustainable exploitation of the Blue Economy.
''To achieve strong and sustainable economic growth, Kenya is diversifying her sources of growth by pursuing the Blue economy. The activities of the blue economy include harvesting of living resources such as sea food and marine biotechnology, extraction of non-living resources (seabed mining), and generation of new resources (energy and fresh water). For this to happen, a lot of manpower is required and mostly it is seafarers who can do the job effectively,'' Adembesa said.
He lauded President Uhuru Kenyatta for his resolve to foster utilisation of the Blue Economy by putting in place a number of initiatives like the establishment of the Department of Fisheries and the Blue Economy in the Agriculture Ministry, establishment of the Kenya Coast Guard, upgrading of the Bandari College into a maritime centre of excellency.
''We are now headed on the right track. Mr President please ensure that seafarers who have suffered alot in the past two decades reap from benefits of Blue Economy,'' Adembesa said.
Mr Kassim Nguta, 58 year old veteran seafarers said that he was fit for any seafaring at his age and should never be discriminated upon.
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''I have what it takes to sail in any of the watercrafts that floats the world's oceans today from a fishing vessel, cruise ship to a research vessel after my many years at sea,'' he said.
The seafarers at the same time demanded that the country's maritime regulator, Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA) to show commitment to bolstering welfare of seafarers in the country.
'' Many a times have our colleagues fallen into trouble with those who have employed them and end up receiving little or no help at all,'' Adembesa said citing a recent case where a seafarer got sick at his work place and rushed to private hospital before being transferred to a public hospital where he succumbed to his illness,'' Adembesa said.
He said that the transfer from a private hospital was as a result of complaints by a company that had hired him that they could not foot the bill at the private hospital.
'' This is a matter that was brought to the attention of KMA but as usual, they never acted in time ,'' he alleged.