More than 500 seafarers are jobless despite receiving additional training in the maritime industry, their union said on Tuesday.
This is so even as the Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA) announced the release of Sh5 million for sponsoring training of more seafarers.
The Seafarers Union of Kenya chairman Daudi Hajji said since 2014 the maritime agency has been equipping seafarers with skills but majority of them are not benefiting owing to lack of jobs and support from the government. “As seafarers, we are dwindling in numbers and suffering.
‘‘We are educated, have had further training and are up to task,” Mr Hajji said during the World Maritime Day celebrations at Pride Inn Paradise Convention Centre in Shanzu, Mombasa.
“But I’m sad to say that most of us are languishing in poverty and as a result have broken homes among many other problems, all this is because we lack jobs which have been taken by shipping agents.”
He added that some seafarers who secure casual jobs from ship owners at the port also suffer abuse and earn meagre pay despite their high qualifications but are forced to accept the conditions due to desperation.
The union official appealed to Transport, Infrastructure, and Housing and Urban Development Cabinet Secretary James Macharia to come to the aid of the seafarers.
“Ships dock in and out of the port but it is very sad to note that not one seafarer is from Kenya yet the certificates and qualifications they have are the same as we have,” he said.
He said that the training given to seafarers may end up going to waste by the time they attempt to renew their certificates after five years.
He appealed to shipping agents to work in collaboration with the Seafarers Union of Kenya stressing that other countries have incorporated seafarers in their work and have recorded growth in the shipping businesses.
In his remarks, KMA board chairman Mwalimu Digore said they had approved the release of Sh5 million to support training of more seafarers.