Kenya Government has laid down a budget of Kshs. 30 million for
the training of Kenyan Seafarers (officers and ratings) so that
preparations can be made for Kenya to be on the IMO’s white list.
We have received information that a meeting was held in Nairobi
early June 2008 in which the Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA)
invited all the training Institutions in Kenya including
Universities up country, to see if they can handle the training.
With the lure of Kshs. 30 million budget, almost all the
Universities turned and agreed to host the courses up to Degree
level without knowing whether or not the IMO requirement entail
the Sea training aspect of the courses for officers and ratings.
The KMA must have copied the syllabus from some body else’s
training scheme, but the universities do not understand it.
Maritime educations conducted in the university of Nairobi and Moi
university lack focus on the Maritime Sector. A few maritime
courses are taught as part of the law degree program.
As a result, specialization is lacking, for example no post
graduate degree in maritime law is available in the country in
contrast to African Maritime nations such as Mauritius, Egypt and
South Africa. Areas such as Maritime security, maritime
environment protection, conservation efficiency in use of seas and
inland waters, marine engineering. Nautical studies etc are not
covered either at the academic or the professions levels.
Compounding the lack of maritime education is the lack of research
and development activities in the maritime sector. The objectives
of seafarers training are to safeguard life, property and the
environment. To fulfill these objectives, a focus beyond vessel
condition and organizational management system is required. Many
maritime incidents and accidents are related to human error and
should be the starting point for proactive competence management
of the Seafarers.
So IMO’s white list scheme and assessment of Accredited Training
facilities namely Maritime Academies (teaching upto Degree levels),
Maritime Training Centres (teaching to meet STCW requirements),
the teaching personnel with seafaring background, crewing agencies,
commercial agents not Government agents who know what shipping is
all about and are conversant with ILO conventions and local Labor
Laws, quality company superintendents and Designated Persons
Ashore (DPA), Company’s Security Officers(CSO) all need to be
South Africa shipping fleet has dwindled to nothing other than
last 20 years. But training schools are still there, and no berths
are now available on board, South African Ships to train cadets.
They expected foreign ship owners to help them with the training
of South African cadets for future employment.
Philippines had 37 Maritime Academies, 19 Maritime Training
Centres, 17 Crew Manning Agencies.
They supply over 20% of the world Seafarers plus the fact that
they have ships of their own. Philippines rely heavily on foreign
owners (mainly Japanese) to finance and maintain their training
programs and facilities for their Seafarers. Hungary trained and
certifies 457 Seafarers by 2005 but they have no ships of their
own to employ them. So they supply their Seafarers to the world,
supplying industry particularly to the European Union.
Kenya has nothing, neither international trading ships nor IMO
recognized training facilities. To spend Kshs. 30 million wisely,
they will be well advised to have one of the recognized
accreditation bodies to look at their situation. First, to avoid
making silly mistakes by trying to go it alone. But stumbling
block is that no foreigners are supposed to know what the Kenya
Maritime Authority will do with the money.
So the nagging question remains, where is the market for Kenya
Seafarers? The universities are looking for the training of
officers, what about the ratings?
We understand, proposals put forward by Bandari College were
rejected and considered as rubbish. Kenya Maritime Authority
should not be involved in the training of Seafarers but they have
to examine them. Kenya Maritime Authority examiners must also be
accredited as fit to examine by a recognized authority or
organization to see that they maintain IMO standards, for in the
Shipping Industry these days everybody is monitoring and or
auditing everybody else.
The severe shortage of officers is going to adversely impact the
ambitions expansion plans of shipping companies. It is very
difficult to run the existing fleet. For instance ships are held
up at Ports due to shortage of officers. A ship cannot sail
without the prescribe number of crew. The shortage of Seafarers
has led to long working hours for Seafarers. There have been some
cases of suicide by Seafarers recently.
Current trends suggest that the number of Kenyan Deck and Engineer
officers will be less than half by the year 2010. Currently, the
average age of the Kenyan Merchant Navy Officers is rising, with
75% currently aged over 45 years, with the result that a high
proportion of the Kenyan officers workforce is due to retire
within the next decade and their replacement not being recruited
and trained in adequate numbers.
These statistics show that current recruitment methods are not
effective enough at generating the interest in careers, the
industry has to offer, and unless this situation is improved upon,
not only will the Kenya’s Merchant shipping employees afloat
suffer, but the entire country’s multi- billion shilling maritime
sector, which relies heavily on experienced and knowledgeable
personnel who have previously been Seafarers, and whose insight
into Seagoing side of the industry is essential for successful
business in ship management companies, nautical training, marine
Insurance and surveying and other will suffer too.
Training of new crew from scratch to senior officer level can take
from between eight (8) to 10 years.
Seafarers’ Assistance Program.