KMA, the maritime industry regulator in Kenya which operates a closed register, said on Saturday that it was pushing national government to allow it run an open ship register that will make it easier to lobby for seafarers' jobs and sea-time training for students. Kenya's 7,000 seafarers are currently jobless because they cannot get opportunities on foreign-registered ships.
A closed ship register means that KMA registers only local vessels and not the international carriers. And because Kenya does not own any ship, the register has only 26 small marine crafts and no single ship has been entered into the list making it difficult to negotiate for seafaring jobs onboard training opportunities.
Under an open register, Mombasa will become a home port for foreign ships and this is projected to open up opportunities to Kenyans.
KMA chairman Mr Mwalimu Digore said the board of directors was considering going the Panama way by opening its ship register and woo vessel owners to register them in Mombasa. Monrovia, Liberia, is the second largest ship register in the world.
He said the alternative was to adapt the Ethiopian model of buying ships which would require a huge investment.
"KMA is fronting a proposal to open the ship register because it does not allow us to register a foreign vessel at the moment. Once we do that we will be able to lobby with ship owners to employ our seafarers because we will have a contract with them. Ethiopia has instead bought eight ships although it has no port of its own," Digore noted.
He was addressing maritime industry stakeholders during the world maritime day celebrations at the Mama Ngina recreation park at the weekend presided over by ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Principal secretary John Mosonik.