Even as the government steps up measures to combat insecurity in the country, the porous sections of our land and aquatic borders are posing an imminent threat to peace and stability.
It is therefore a relief to learn that the Interior Security ministry has ordered an immediate review and fresh registration of the more than 600 private jetties and landing sites in the country. More worrying is the revelation that the landing sites, including private jetties, are not covered by the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) code. The code covers security measures on maritime vessels and port facilities.
According to the Kenya Coast Guard Service (KCGS), the unregistered jetties are currently not under the control of maritime security agents. This is a serious lapse, especially when one recalls the terrorist incidents that have occurred in the country in the past. There must be order in the sector so that the government can have proper records of all those operating the various sites.
According to the government, many of the private jetties have been used to conduct illegal trade, including transportation of illegal narcotics and other contraband. By bringing these landing points under the control of State agencies like the Kenya Maritime Authority, the government will be able to combat the drug trade and also prevent rogue elements from entering the country.
It is extremely concerning that hundreds of these jetties and landing sites have remained outside the watchful eye of the authorities. One can only imagine the nefarious activities that may have transpired at some of these sites.
The Kenya Coast Guard Service CGS has raised concerns about the use of the illegal landing sites and jetties, blaming them for the proliferation of trafficking in narcotics, weapons and illegal wildlife products.
Drug barons who have been caught in the Coast region in the past have been reported to have used their private jetties to smuggle the narcotics into the country.
Since the government has raised the alarm, we aver that it also needs to go beyond regulating them and ensure that those that were used to facilitate underworld activities are shut and those responsible brought to book.
The government should also go beyond registering them and conduct frequent inspections to ensure that they always conform with the set regulations.
The owners of these private jetties and landing points should comply with the government’s directive to ensure that these critical areas are properly secured.
The Kenyan economy can ill afford to have goods smuggled into the country as they pose a serious threat to local manufacturers who pay the required taxes but cannot compete with tax evaders who undercut them.
Tax evasion costs the country tens of billions of shillings annually and some manufacturers have had to close shop and lay off workers to the detriment of the economy.