13th February 2004


The Merchant Shipping Bill 2003, The Inland Waterways Bill 2003 and the Maritime Regulatory Authority Bill 2003 were on Wednesday, February 11, 2004 presented to Attorney General Amos Wako by the committee on Kenya Maritime Law Review.

Kenyan Seafarers have continued to lose jobs aboard all ocean – going vessels as Kenya has not fully complied with the international Standards of Training, Certification and Watch-keeping for Seafarers (STCW).

Kenya could not also implement IMO Convention on Safety of Life at Sea  (SOLAS) and marine pollution prevention, because there existed no domestic legislation to enable the country to do so.

Due to insufficient legal frame- work for implementation of IMO and ILO instruments, Kenya had failed to enter into the so-called IMO white list.

The Maritime Regulatory Authority Bill would facilitate the establishment of a maritime administration, which would de- link the regulatory functions of Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) from the office of the Merchant Shipping Superintendent.

It would also facilitate the establishment of an International Ships Registry, which would generate revenue and encourage Kenyans to participate in the shipping industry.

Should the Merchant Shipping Act Bill go through it will facilitate the incorporation and implementation of all ILO and IMO conventions Kenya has ratified into national laws.

Prof Gerishon Ikiara, Permanent Secretary Ministry of Transport and Communications (MOTCOM) revealed to Seafarers’ Union Officials at his office on 11th February 2004 that a committee of four people headed by a representative from Attorney General’s Chambers would be formed to work on the three Bills.

He said that a private Maritime Lawyer would be engaged to boost the efforts of the AG’s Officers and also to draft the necessary Regulations for Gazettement.

The Permanent Secretary added that one maritime officer from MOTCOM and the Merchant Shipping Superintendent will enhance the editing of the Bills and provide any technical explanation where necessary.

He further told the SUK Officials that the finalisation of the three Bills would not take more than seven days.

To ensure that finalisation of the three Bills was concluded, Prof. Ikiara reiterated his commitment to the exercise and asked his maritime officers to contact him directly whenever any assistance was needed from him to facilitate the process.

He also asked his maritime officers to work closely with the Seafarers Union of Kenya.

 The Permanent Secretary further revealed that his maritime officers have made a follow –up on the pending STCW matters especially the communication between MOTCOM and the Dar-es- salaam Maritime Institute regarding the process of accreditation. Also, a follow -up is being done with the Kenya Institute of Education on the same.

In this regard, he said his maritime officers have prepared a draft Memorandum of Understanding between the Kenya Government and the Tanzania Government to facilitate the process of validation of STCW Certificates issued at the Bandari College.

He also told the meeting that his office is working on the new International requirements for the Seafarers Identity Document and the implementation of the International Ship and Port Security (ISPS) Code.  A stakeholders’ training workshop on the ISPS code is to be held in Mombasa within one week, he added.

The ISPS Code has been developed under the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) convention. It requires that all ports involved in international trade implement some security measures to guard themselves against both international and local terrorism.

The ISPS Code is coming into force in July, this year and therefore there is an urgent need to ensure compliance. Failure to comply by that date will render the port of Mombasa black listed.

Like the ISPS Code, the Seafarers Identity Document convention of the ILO will come into effect in July this year and any Seafarer without the document will not be allowed to board any ship.

The Seafarers Identity Document is intended to facilitate ease of movement of the seafarers when joining and leaving their ships and also when they are in need of going on shore- leave in a foreign port. Before the bills are tabled in parliament, there will be a sensitization workshop for the Members of Parliament so as to enable them contribute to the debate of the three maritime bills.

The Seafarers’ Union told the PS during their meeting that fees charged for their training at Bandari College was too high and many of them were unable to raise it. To address this problem, the PS said he is going to do everything within his means to ensure the seafarers get sponsorship.

The Seafarers Union was represented at this crucial meeting held at the office of the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Transport and Communication by the Secretary General Abubakar Omar, Deputy Secretary, Joseph Khayemba and the Organizing Secretary Andrew Mwangura.

Others in attendance were maritime officers from MOTCOM including Mr. Thuo, Mrs Maingi, Mrs Muriuki and Mr. Nzavu.

Andrew Mwangura

Organizing Secretary

Seafarers Union of Kenya