The recent escape of the Tanzania oil tanker Mt Beacon from Kenya territorial waters is not only an embarrassment to the Kenya Security, but it is a Security risk to this region. For, this is the fifth Ocean-going vessel to runaway from the very eyes of the Kenya Police and Kenya Navy.

Kenya has long been a major transit point for weapons shipments destined to war torn countries in this region.

Given the ease of weapons flows across borders, arms purchases by regional actors that are facilitated by the then Kenya Government contribute to the problems in East Africa where weapons are recycled from war torn countries.

Arms proliferation in East Africa has reached crisis proportions, for it is said that seventy-five percent of this region is awash with illicit arms.

This has fueled insecurity and crime in East Africa where guns are commonly used to commit a range of violent acts.

In the year 2000 Kenya Police recovered between 1,800 and 2,000 unlicensed guns per month in the capital city of Nairobi, and about 5,000 illegal firearms remained in circulation in the capital city.

Apart from Nairobi there are over 40,000 firearms illegally held in the other parts of the country.

In the Northern Rift Valley Provinces 95% of households are armed.

During the armed political violence in the Coast Province in 1997 a total of 104 people were killed in the violence 133 were injured, 100,000 were displaced, hundreds of structures were damaged and other property was damaged or stolen.

Between 1991 and 1998, politically motivated ethnic violence in the Rift Valley Province took 3,500 lives and displaced over 400,000 people.

Politically motivated ethnic violence in the Rift Valley Province took 1,500 lives and displaced over 300,000 people in 1991 and in 1998 it took 2,000 lives and displaced over 400,000 people.

It has also been estimated that in the cattle raids using automatic weapons account for more 1,200 deaths and theft of over 300,000 livestock in Kenya and Uganda.

On October 25, 1998 well over one hundred members of the Degodia community were killed and an estimated 17,000 camels, cattle, sheep and goats were stolen in the Northern Eastern Province of Kenya.

The above statistics indicates that the 640 Km Kenya Coastline is not secure.

Apart from Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique, the 3.700 km Somali Coastline continues to be the main danger area.

Among the hot sports in the West Indian Ocean and Southeast Africa region are:


Amboni, Pangani, Bagamoyo, Kunduchi, Kisiju, Kilindoni, Mafia Island, Kilwa, Songamnora Island, Mtwara, Lindi, Mwambo, Mbegani, Kimbuji, Jasini, Zingibari, Moa Nyakatombe, Makunduchi, Chwaka.


Namiranga, Quionga, Palma, Macimboa da Praia, Ibo, Pembani, Quelimane, Nacala.


Ghala Island, Kinondo, Gazi, Bodo, Majoreni, Vanga, Mokowe, Jasini Shimoni, Lamu Takaungu, Kipini, Ukonumbi, Mombasa Old Port, Kiunga, Kiwayu.


Ras Afun, Eyl, Obbia, Elmaan, Brava, Bossaso, Kismayu, Gobwen, Cape Guardafui, Garowe.


Socotra Island

Apart from arms smuggling, tonnes of illicit drugs find their way to this region through unauthorized sea points to the Indian Ocean and Southeast Africa region.

The drug barons and arms smugglers beat the regions security systems by using speed boats, fishing boats yatchs, dhows and foreign Ocean-going FOC vessels at times to ferry the illicit cargo from the high seas to beaches anywhere along the Coast.

Owing to the current security situation in this region. I would appreciate it if the regional members states could urgently take appropriate measures unto this important subject matter by implementing the International Ship and Port Security (ISPS) code.

The ISPS code applies to all Ocean-going vessels over 500 GRT engaged in international voyages and all port facilities serving such ships. There is also an urgent need of setting up Coast guard in this region.

Andrew Mwangura

Organising Secretary of the Seafarers Union of Kenya