SAP - Annual Report: 2006/2007

The port of Mombassa has realized remarkable progress in the equipment replacement program aimed at modernizing and upgrading port facilities .The port has also expanded the container handling yard to accommodate growing container traffic.

The security at the port is now beefed up and more measures are being implemented to make it water-tight. Key projects in Mombassa port strategic road-map is the development of a pilot free trade zone within the port, a cruise passenger terminal and development of a second commercial sea port in response to global trade trends.

An ambitious project for the construction of a modern cruise ship landing facility at the port was launched in 2004 by then Transport and communications minister John Michuki.

The cruise terminal is expected to boost local tourism and competes with Caribbean countries that, reports indicate, account for over 43% of the global business.

This project is estimated to cost US$ 7m. Work on the cruise facility is expected this year and run for the next two years.

The work will involve the renovation of the current berths to make them aesthetically and functionally appropriate to serve as a cruise terminal centre.

Offices for customs, immigration, cruise operators, restaurants, souvenir shops, a reception area and lounges will be provided.

Over the years, the port of Mombasa has continued to enjoy good tides in its trade.

Last year, the port handled a total throughput of 14.42million tons as compared to 13.28 million tons in 2005, an increased of 8.6%.

The port has been lately operating higher than the world average with a total container output last year being 479,555 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs).

The vessel turn around time has been pegged at 3.2 days.

In terms of profit before tax, the Kenya Ports Authority will make US $ 53.6 million, in the last financial year KPA made US $ 44.9 million. 

The port management is planning to convert some of the existing conventional cargo berths to container handling facilities as a way of coping with the backlog and the increased number of containers.

Currently, the port has three container berths with quay length of 59m, back-up area of about 20ha and a total capacity to handle 250,000 TEUs per annum. The port has three bulk wharves with a total quay length of 315m and three dhow jetties at the Mombassa Old harbor.

Recently, the port acquired three modern tugboats.

The port serves all the landlocked countries of Eastern and Central Africa. They include Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Northern Tanzania, Southern Sudan, Eastern parts of Democratic Republic of Congo.

The port has also been vital link for the importation of relief supplies to the war torn regions of Southern Sudan, Northern Uganda and Eastern Democratic republic of Congo.

Cargo to these landlocked regions has grown by 16% in the last year, jumping by 283.30 tons from 1.78mn to 2.05mn tons.

Even with improved services at the port, the port management has also have to deal with the rising deaths among its staff from HIV/AIDS related ailments that have cost the Kenya Ports Authority millions of money in lost hours and burial expenses.

With all these port activities, we at the SAP are kept busy.

We meet Seafarers and Fish workers from Kenya and from all parts of the world about 90% are men and 10% are women.

Most of them come for prayers, legal advice and assistance. Others go to the missions to seafarers to exchange money, make phone calls home and some of them relax in a safe and decent environment for the relatively short time their ships are in port

In the past up to early this year, we have handled many cases of Seafarers who have lost their lives at sea.

We have offered legal assistance, counseling and advice to family members of deceased Seafarers.

Between the year 1983-2004, some 67 seafarers and fishers have lost their lives at sea while 121 were seriously injured, 37 suffered frost-bitten fingers and 17 missing.

Apart from maritime casualties,213 Kenyan seafarers and fish workers have been held captive by Somali pirates in a span of 16 years. Mombassa based 9 merchant ships and 9 fishing vessels have been hijacked off the Somali coast in the said period.

MV Semlow, MV Torgelow,MV Miltzow, and MV Rozen were hijacked by Somali pirates in 2005 and 2007 while delivering food aid under charter of the UN World Food Program. The victimized crew members of these vessels were Kenyan, Tanzanian and Sir Lankan nationals. To date Kenya has successfully prosecuted 10 Somali Pirates.

We suffice to say that there is an urgent need to install Long Range Acoustic Device(LRAD) on merchant ships carrying food aid to Somalia.

LRAD is a non-lethal weapon developed for US military. It is not bigger than a satellite receiver. The device not only emits loud speaker announcements but can also send immensely loud high-frequency acoustic signals over a distance of several hundred meters. The noise causes considerable pain to the ears, makes communication impossible and consequently compels attackers to give up.

LRAD sound is compared to the sound of a fire alarm the difference is that the fire alarm is a warning of danger at a level of 80 to 90 decibels whereas the LRAD fires at up to 150 decibels.

The system has been installed on passenger and naval vessels since 2003.

A successful battle against piracy on an international level can only be based on the multinational development of a uniform legal model.

It gives great joy to note that a model international law concerning piracy and acts of maritime violence 2001 has been prepared by the Committee Maritime International. 

The commitment to fight piracy on a multinational level means that legal systems must be amended on the national level.

In addition to piracy the proposal also refers to a new type of crime, maritime violence which includes terrorist attacks at sea. Its aim is to fill the loopholes left by the 1982 UN convention on law of the sea (UNCLOS) and to allow all forms of maritime violence to be prosecuted and punished by one or more States.

Unfortunately only a handful of the States have amended their laws to date. 

Throughout the past two decades, Kenya government has done a lot on port management reforms. But, she has overlooked the development of seafarers and fishers.

However it gives great joy to note that with assistance of the IMO the government of Kenya has sponsored 120 seafarers to undergo a 21 days STCW course at the Dar-es-Salaam maritime institute.

Now that the ILO is consolidating maritime labor standards into unified Seafarers Bill of rights' and is also working on the proposed convention concerning work in the fishing sector. It is disheartening to say that Kenyan seafarers and Fish workers are not represented in these ILO projects.

In April 2005, Mombassa fishing community suffered a heavy loss of property and income when an Indian flagged oil tanker left a huge oil slick after a collision in Mombassa harbor.

The tanker MT Ratna Shalini hit metal railings as it berthed, puncturing the hull and creating a slick with a radius of around ten kilometers.

The Kenya government wants US$ 1m in compensation from the owners of the tanker.

Kenya is seeking the compensation under the terms of International treaties, which it has signed up to.

Around 40 hectares of mangroves have been affected. The fine will be used to fund the clean up of near shore ecosystems.

In March 2005, the then Transport Minister Dr. Chris Murungaru launched Kenya Maritime Authority.

Established by President Mwai Kibaki through a legal notice number 79 of 2004, the KMA is bestowed with sweeping powers to regulate, coordinate and manage maritime affairs in the country.

KMA will coordinate implementation of Maritime policy, advise the government on all maritime affairs, discharge flag and port state controls, maintain and administer the ship register, handle maritime search and rescue, enforce safety of shipping and inspect ships.

The Authority is also empowered to oversee training, recruitment and welfare of Kenya Seafarers; plan, monitor and evaluate casualties and regulate shipping in Inland waterways.

In establishing the KMA, the Government is responding-albeit late- to the reform calls by the industry.

But it is sad that all these developments at the port of Mombasa has not gone hand in hand with the development and progress of Seafarers.

For instance, there is currently a big shortage of Merchant Naval officers, Engineers and Ratings in Inland navigation, Coastal and foreign ocean going vessels.

It is further regrettable to state that due to corruption in the fisheries Department, the future of marine biodiversity in Kenya is doomed.

It hurts very much to note that prawn trawlers are operating within 1.5 nautical miles at the Malindi-Ungwana bay, dozens of long-liners are operating in the Exclusive Economic Zone, and about 400 foreign licensed and unlicensed commercial fishing vessels and ring-netters are fishing illegal in Kenyan territorial waters.

May 5th 2006 Rapid Maritime Response Coordination Centre was officially launched by the Secretary General of the IMO Mr. Ethimioss Emitropoulos.

The centre is equipped with two fleet 77 terminals for satellite communications recognized by the GMDSS.

Owing to lax security along the 500km highway stretch between Mombasa and Nairobi, long distance truck drivers have been seriously maimed and some lost their lives due to rampant highway robbery.

The long distance truck drivers operate between the port of Mombasa, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Ethiopia, Sudan, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In conclusion, we beg to state herein that, risky behavior among the fish wokers, seafarers, truck drivers and sex workers in Mombassa could have far reached implications.

It hurts to note that truck drivers,seafarers and fish workers general have low awareness and knowledge of HIV. Foreign seafarers and fish workers call Mombassa port regularly and frequent the town during their stay. 

Both seafarers and truck drivers, engage local commercial sex workers down town and sometimes even share the same sexual partners. As a result, infections picked up along the transport route may be carried around the world to cause new infections, often with new strands of the virus.

The implications and consequences of risky behavior are truly international and effects can be felt thousands of miles away.

Many have brief sexual relations with commercial sex workers during their stay far away from home, while some may also engage in regular transactional sex with girlfriends, who are not really commercial workers but may accept occasional money, gifts, food, alcohol or a place to stay, in exchange for sex.

The girlfriends may have sex exclusively with their partners while they are on shore leave and in town, but they continue to solicit new clients when the men return to sea.

Long distance truck drivers usually do receive HIV education but its impact is reduced, due to limited accessibility and unwillingness to change behavior.

Andrew Mwangura
Programs Coordinator
Seafarers' Assistance Program


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