Sh25 billion set to upgrade Bandari Maritime Academy

Students lend their ears during the flagging off of 500 seafarers at Bandari Maritime Academy in Mombasa. The Kenyan students will work on different ships from various countries. March 30, 2023. [Omondi Onyango,Standard]

The government plans to expand the training of seafarers and dry dock services for ships in Mombasa county to boost the economy.

The plan includes investing Sh25 billion in the expansion of Bandari Maritime Academy and positioning it as a centre of excellence in the region.

Further, plans are also underway to upgrade the newly established Kenya Shipyards Limited in Mombasa county to make it easier to repair ships vising the port of Mombasa.

Mining, Blue Economy and Maritime Affairs Cabinet Secretary Salim Mvurya and principal secretary Shadrack Mwadime said that the plans would make Mombasa attractive for recruitment of seafarers and a major centre for ship repair, which will boost the economy.

Mvurya said it costs up to Sh30 million, most in fuel costs, to take a ship to Dubai for repairs and back while such services can be provided locally at the shipyard near Mombasa port once upgraded.

“Instead of ships going for dry dock services in Dubai, we plan to develop our facility in Mombasa that will save the cost of fuel for ships,” Mvurya said, adding that the ministry has revived the maritime security unit to assure residents and investors of a secure environment.

The CS said the government had acquired land in Kwale to establish another centre of maritime training in the region.

Mvurya said he and his Labour counterpart, Ms Florence Bore, are working on a Cabinet memo to improve salaries and the general welfare of seafarers in the country.

Mwadime noted that the Ministry has come up with an Sh25 billion plan to transform Bandari Maritime Academy into a centre of excellence in maritime training in the region in the next 10 years.

The PS said apart from a partnership with Kenya Commercial Bank to offer loans to needy students, the government will establish an Sh20 million loan scheme through Kenya Maritime Authority (KPA) to enable more students to access maritime training.

“I have instructed KMA to establish an Sh20 million revolving fund that will be administered by the Higher Education Loans Board (Helb) to enable more students to access training at Bandari Maritime Academy,” Mwadime said. Mwadime noted that the Philippines, which is a third-world country like Kenya, has 180,000 seafarers deployed to ships around the world and earning it more than Sh950 billion annually after investing in maritime training.

“It is possible for us as a country to achieve this. We want Bandari Maritime Academy to attract students from the region,” he said.

Kenya plans to recruit 15,000 seafarers annually in the next five years to be a leading source of maritime labour in the region.

Currently, 14 seafarers recruitment agencies in the working are working with KMA and ship owners to employ the youth.