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Uhuru unveils Kenya Coast Guard Service

By Philip Mwakio | November 20th 2018
President Uhuru Kenyatta with marine soldiers during the launching of Kenya Coast Guard Services and the Commissioning of the coast guard vessel mv KCGS Doria yesterday. [Maarufu Mohamed, Standard]

President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday also commissioned marine craft MV KSGS Doria in Mombasa.

The Head of State said the launch and commissioning were a fulfillment of his administration in recovering Kenya's lost dream in protecting its vast resource potential in its ocean waters.

The President also announced that Kenya would revamp the Kenya National Shipping Line (KNSL), a moribund parastatal created in 1987 to operate Kenya's ships but does not own a single vessel.

Uhuru, who was accompanied by Deputy President William Ruto, gave a chronology of the events surrounding the seafaring sector which until 1995 provided employment to 10,000 Kenyans.

Over time, the Head of State observed, this changed, with fewer Kenyans becoming seafarers.

"We failed to adapt to the trends in the maritime sector and completely lost focus then. Today the ocean is emerging as an avenue where its sustainable harnessing could be a boost to the economy," Uhuru said.

He added that Kenyan was not benefiting from resources that abound in the oceans, with foreign vessels carting away sea harvests.

The President said Mauritius got 11 per cent of its GDP from harnessing its blue economy while Kenya's contributes a paltry 2.5 per cent.

''We have a larger sea area and if we fully exploited our blue economy in our ocean waters, we could easily contribute even three times what we get from the sector currently," Uhuru said.

The Head of State said the Government had moved with speed to carry out massive upgrade of the port of Mombasa, built a modern cruise terminal and established the Standard Gauge Railway.

"All these are the much-needed infrastructural support ventures that provide the backbone required to harness our blue economy," he said.

Uhuru commended Mombasa business tycoon Mohamed Jaffar, who owns One Holding Company, for heeding the Government's call to return land on key landing sites along the coastline.

He directed the State Department of Fisheries and the National Land Commission to ensure that all fish landing sites in private hands were secured by the end of the first quarter of 2019.

Uhuru said rehabilitation of jetties such as the Mombasa Fish Complex would lead to creation of jobs.

At the same time, the Head of State announced that the revival of KNSL remained a priority of his administration as the Government tried to unlock the blue economy potential.

"Since close to 90 per cent of all international trade is sea-borne, it is crucial for us to go ahead and ensure that KNSL is revived. This will go a long way in ensuring jobs for local seafarers, creation of stronger linkages and strengthening the partnership with the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC)," said Uhuru.

Bear results

He said the collaboration with MSC had started to bear results, with the first batch of 16 Kenyan seafarers heading to various destinations to take up jobs aboard MSC vessels.

Among the beneficiaries who received air tickets from the Head of State were Kenya's first woman marine trainee pilot, Elizabeth Marani, who is due to fly to France to join MSC Bellisima, a cruise ship under construction.

President Uhuru signed an executive order to establish the Kenya Fishing Industry Corporation and the Bandari Maritime Academy to offer holistic training.

General Samson Mwathethe, the Chief of Defence Forces, who is chairman of the Kenya Blue Economy Steering Committee, lauded the Government for tapping the blue economy.

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