KMA: This is how we plan to power shipping industry

The newly appointed KMA Director General, Martin Dzombo Munga. [Robert Menza, Standard]

Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA) is set to roll out the issuance of Seafarers Identity Document (SID) from next month to allow Kenyan sailors free movement round the globe as it targets 250,000 maritime jobs in the international labour market in the next five years.

The issuance of SID is in line with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention number 185 (revised in 2003) which guarantees the rights of seafarers to temporarily enter a country for the purpose of shore leave.

It also requires seafarers to hold an identity document that proves that they are legitimate in order to exercise this right.

This followed a continued threat to the security of passengers and crew and the safety of ships as well as the national interest of states and individuals. Issuance of SID is meant to offer special protection to seafarers and promote decent conditions of work.

Under the regulations gazetted on September 23, 2022 by Transport Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen, KMA is mandated to maintain an electronic database of each Kenyan SID issued, suspended or withdrawn.

KMA may suspend, withdraw or confiscate a Kenyan SID where the holder knowingly permits another person to use the document. The seafarer may face similar actions if he is convicted of drug trafficking, money laundering, trafficking in persons, smuggling, involvement in any act of terrorism or any other international crime.

The regulations also require KMA to designate a focal point to address inquiries from immigration authorities or any other competent authorities.

According to the regulations, a person eligible for a Kenyan SID should hold a valid continuous discharge certificate and record book, valid Standard of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) safety training certificate and a passport.

SID cannot be issued to a person working on a war ship. KMA will issue SID under the Merchant Shipping Act of 2009.

Shipping and Logistics writer Patrick Beja talked to KMA Director General Martin Munga about the issuance of SID and other issues relating to seafaring.

Question: The Seafarers Identity Document (SID) has become a very important document for the smooth movement of sailors across the globe. What plans are in place to ensure Kenyan seafarers get this document?

Answer: Kenya has ratified the SID convention. KMA has developed regulations for the implementation of the SID. These are critical plans before issuance of SID.

Q: What has caused the delay in issuing SID to seafarers?

A: Implementation of the SID is required to undergo various stages which take time; but we are currently in the final stage.

Q: When are Kenyan seafarers going to get the document? When is the target?

A: Seafarers should have the document by June 2024 but the authority is targeting issuing in April 2024.

Q: KMA’s mandate includes maritime education. How many seafarers have so far been trained under the latest programme and how many are going to be trained going forward, say, in the next five years?

A: KMA’s mandate is to oversee matters pertaining to the training, recruitment and welfare of seafarers. We are also mandated to plan, monitor and evaluate training programmes to ensure conformity with standards laid down in international maritime conventions. Those are our functions in relation to training and hence we do not directly conduct training.

Q: What are the prospects of Kenyan seafarers in the international labour market?

A: Our plans are detailed in the KMA strategic plan. From verified reports including the Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO) - the world’s largest direct membership organisation for shipowners, charterers, shipbrokers and agents - there is a shortage of at least 200,000 seafarers.

This shortage and the current employment trend in the industry informs our plan which is to see how to create jobs for 250,000 Kenyans in maritime in the next five years.

Q: What has KMA done to help poor students train for maritime jobs?  

A: We have ensured that the Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) covers training for maritime students. We are looking to set up training grounds for wider access to this training.

Q: There has been an attempt by the government to set up a seafarer’s wages council. What has hindered this plan and what is being done to ensure this idea works?

A: Implementation requires a set of regulations. Initially, there were no regulations to support this but now the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) 2006 as amended, is functional.

The Authority has finalised the setup of the Seafarers Wages Council through the support of the National Labour Board in a meeting which was held in February, 2024.

Q: Since last year, the Seafarers Union of Kenya has been divided into two factions after members voted in two groups that are yet to be registered. What is KMA doing to ensure the union is united?

A: The Seafarers Union of Kenya had issues that have since been resolved by the registrar of trade union

 

) is set to roll out the issuance of Seafarers Identity Document (SID) from next month to allow Kenyan sailors free movement round the globe as it targets 250,000 maritime jobs in the international labour market in the next five years.

The issuance of SID is in line with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention number 185 (revised in 2003) which guarantees the rights of seafarers to temporarily enter a country for the purpose of shore leave.

It also requires seafarers to hold an identity document that proves that they are legitimate in order to exercise this right.

This followed a continued threat to the security of passengers and crew and the safety of ships as well as the national interest of states and individuals. Issuance of SID is meant to offer special protection to seafarers and promote decent conditions of work.

Under the regulations gazetted on September 23, 2022 by Transport Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen, KMA is mandated to maintain an electronic database of each Kenyan SID issued, suspended or withdrawn.

KMA may suspend, withdraw or confiscate a Kenyan SID where the holder knowingly permits another person to use the document. The seafarer may face similar actions if he is convicted of drug trafficking, money laundering, trafficking in persons, smuggling, involvement in any act of terrorism or any other international crime.

The regulations also require KMA to designate a focal point to address inquiries from immigration authorities or any other competent authorities.

According to the regulations, a person eligible for a Kenyan SID should hold a valid continuous discharge certificate and record book, valid Standard of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) safety training certificate and a passport.

SID cannot be issued to a person working on a war ship. KMA will issue SID under the Merchant Shipping Act of 2009.

Shipping and Logistics writer Patrick Beja talked to KMA Director General Martin Munga about the issuance of SID and other issues relating to seafaring.

Question: The Seafarers Identity Document (SID) has become a very important document for the smooth movement of sailors across the globe. What plans are in place to ensure Kenyan seafarers get this document?

Answer: Kenya has ratified the SID convention. KMA has developed regulations for the implementation of the SID. These are critical plans before issuance of SID.

Q: What has caused the delay in issuing SID to seafarers?

A: Implementation of the SID is required to undergo various stages which take time; but we are currently in the final stage.

Q: When are Kenyan seafarers going to get the document? When is the target?

A: Seafarers should have the document by June 2024 but the authority is targeting issuing in April 2024.

Q: KMA’s mandate includes maritime education. How many seafarers have so far been trained under the latest programme and how many are going to be trained going forward, say, in the next five years?

A: KMA’s mandate is to oversee matters pertaining to the training, recruitment and welfare of seafarers. We are also mandated to plan, monitor and evaluate training programmes to ensure conformity with standards laid down in international maritime conventions. Those are our functions in relation to training and hence we do not directly conduct training.

Q: What are the prospects of Kenyan seafarers in the international labour market?

A: Our plans are detailed in the KMA strategic plan. From verified reports including the Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO) - the world’s largest direct membership organisation for shipowners, charterers, shipbrokers and agents - there is a shortage of at least 200,000 seafarers.

This shortage and the current employment trend in the industry informs our plan which is to see how to create jobs for 250,000 Kenyans in maritime in the next five years.

Q: What has KMA done to help poor students train for maritime jobs?  

A: We have ensured that the Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) covers training for maritime students. We are looking to set up training grounds for wider access to this training.

Q: There has been an attempt by the government to set up a seafarer’s wages council. What has hindered this plan and what is being done to ensure this idea works?

A: Implementation requires a set of regulations. Initially, there were no regulations to support this but now the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) 2006 as amended, is functional.

The Authority has finalised the setup of the Seafarers Wages Council through the support of the National Labour Board in a meeting which was held in February, 2024.

Q: Since last year, the Seafarers Union of Kenya has been divided into two factions after members voted in two groups that are yet to be registered. What is KMA doing to ensure the union is united?

A: The Seafarers Union of Kenya had issues that have since been resolved by the registrar of trade union.

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