By Ronald Ngoba
The Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA) has started a programme of training more than 3,000 boat operators along the Coast region to acquire coxswain certificates.
Speaking after launching the drive at Old ferry landing site in Kilifi County, KMA Captain Peter Munga, one of the trainers said the exercise would go for a period of 30 days and was targeting to train coxswains safety measures to reduce sea accidents.
He said the exercise was also aiming to reduce cases of harassment by Kenya Coast Guards Services and Kenya Maritime Authority.
“We’ve launched this drive in-line with the President William Ruto’s directives to assist fishermen whom majority cannot afford the courses. They have been urging the government to come up with measures that will protect them while in their duties.”
KMA ratified legislation requiring all boat operators to have a coxswain certificate; however, majority of the fishermen cannot afford the courses offered at the Bandari Collage in Mombasa.
According to Munga successful individuals will be issued with certificates and so wants fishermen with knowledge of operating fishing vessels to turn up at designated centres across the region to benefit with the Sh250 million government money set for the programme.
“We are targeting six counties across the coast region to benefit with this programme, we’ve already started in Mombasa, this week we are here in Kilifi, then will be heading to Kwale, Lamu, Tana River and in Taita Taveta respectively.”
With a well-trained and certified coxswain population along the coast region, he said this would drastically reduce the number of accidents, loss of life orcproperty and livelihoods.
He said that the training was necessary after it was established that majority of the fishermen had no documents and some did not surrender the certificates issued by Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) in 2017 as required under the training and certification regulation 2012.
KMA Principal labour officer Ali Muhamed said majority of the fishermen have knowledge and experience of operating fishing vessel, but lack papers as required by fishing regulation hence the constant harassment by Coast guards officers.
He said the programme was also in-line with the government bottom-up agenda of empowering the low-income earners.
“For one to acquire these certificates from the approved institution like Bandari College, it will cost about Sh100,000. An amount that many cannot afford but we are grateful to the government for coming up with this programme that will see many fishermen acquiring the documents.”
Kilifi Boat Operators Association chairman Captain Shalo Issa asked all coxswain to ensure their vessels were registered and they had licenses.
He said there were more than 200,000 registered fishermen operating along the coastal line from Vanga to Kiunga in Lamu.