The Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA) has launched a crackdown on marine vessels operating in Kenyan waters without the requisite registration and licencing certification.
The authority’s Coast Regional Manager Alex Munga, said the crackdown was aimed at ensuring compliance to safety regulations and urged all owners of marine vehicles to have them registered and obtain licences from relevant bodies for them to be allowed to operate.
This come as cases of vessels capsizing while in the deep-sea increase in the Coastal region, last week four people died while 25 others were rescued including Italian tourists were onboard.
Last year Cabinet secretary for blue economy and marine Salim Mvurya said that no vessels will be allowed to operate without license to protect sailors from broken down vessels.
Munga said that the authorityis employing a diversion policy in which owners of vessels found to be flouting the requirements do not go through the normal court process, but instead commit themselves to correct the anomalies within agreed timelines.
“For us to encourage compliance, KMA together with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) decided to apply the Diversion Policy, where violators who admit non-compliance are made to sign an agreement that they will make changes within a period of time instead of the normal route of the court processes,” he noted.
The authority made the remarks in Malindi after raiding and netting three owners of unregistered vessels.
He said that the operation was not meant to harass the vessel owners and operators, but to ensure safety in the Kenyan waters.
“This exercise is not meant to harass anybody, but to encourage people to register their vessels. It is not targeting fishermen or tourist vessels only, but also all vessels operating in the country,” he said.
He said the authority was keen on identifying and holding owners of vessels accountable, and that for this to be possible, all owners of marine vessels must be registered with KMA and obtain relevant operation licences.
He was responding to complaints made by a section of Malindi fishermen, who had claimed that they were being harassed by KMA, whenever they ventured into the sea to fish.
The fishermen had urged the government to vest the responsibility of licencing on one body as opposed to being required to get licences from KMA and the fisheries department.
Munga said KMA was enforcing provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act of 2009 and subsidiary legislation, especially the Small Vessels Safety Regulations of 2012 and the Licencing Regulations of 2012.
“We have agreed with the Kenya Wildlife Service and the Tourism Regulatory Authority that no vessel will be allowed to operate within Kenya’s marine areas if they do not comply with the provisions of the Merchant Shipping act, the TRA provisions and KWS requirements,” he said.