Shipping & Logistics

New regulations to safeguard welfare of Kenyan seafarers

CARGO

A cargo ship docks at the port of Mombasa. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Summary

  • Maritime players have welcomed the Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA) directive on employment of seafarers saying it will protect locals from bogus recruitment agents.
  • KMA has issued a raft of rules on the recruitment and placement of seafarers, in line with the Merchant Shipping Act, 2009.

Maritime players have welcomed the Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA) directive on employment of seafarers saying it will protect locals from bogus recruitment agents.

KMA has issued a raft of rules on the recruitment and placement of seafarers, in line with the Merchant Shipping Act, 2009.

“No person shall, either as principal or agent, engage or recruit a Kenyan seafarer for employment on board a Kenyan or foreign ship without first obtaining a license in the prescribed form from KMA authorizing such person to engage or recruit Kenyan seafarers for sea service,” KMA notified ship owners, seafarers and agents to comply with the directive.

Licensed recruitment and placement agents for seafarers have also been directed to stop charging seafarers agency fees for recruitment services.

The agents are also required to deposit copies of Seafarers Employment Agreement with the Registrar of Seafarers in accordance to Section 118 of the Merchant Shipping Act, 2009.

Maritime expert Andrew Mwangura said the directive will ensure protection of Kenyan seafarers who have for long suffered in the hands of shipping agents. He called for implementation of the government’s directive of 1981 on recruitment and replacement of seafarers to further protect the interests of sea workers.

“It (1981 directive) stated that all job opportunities must be announced at the shipping office which is now KMA and posted on the notice board. The office had labour officers. Recruiters could leave their educational certificates and shipping master seamen book which had their details,” said Mr Mwangura.

The Maritime Employment Administration, Mr Mwangura said, should be the main government agency assigned to monitor and supervise maritime recruitment and manning agencies in Kenya.

“We need to establish Merchant Navy Training Board and Merchant Navy Pensions Fund.

“We need to set up a benevolent fund for old and retired merchant mariners and fishworkers and establish the institute for blue economy and ocean studies at the Pwani University,” Mr Mwangura added, calling on Kenya to ratify and implement the International Seafarers Code.

Last week, KMA raised the alarm on companies recruiting seafarers without going through the licensed recruitment and placement agencies.

According to the authority, seafarers are not being issued with written contracts to cover the period of their service onboard.

KMA said their investigations revealed that the complaints arose from the seafarer having recruited without going through the licensed recruitment and placement agencies and not being issued with written contracts to cover their period of service onboard.

“This is a contravention of the Merchant Shipping Act on the part of the ship owner as well as the seafarer,” KMA in a statement signed by the director general, Robert Njue on the requirement for recruitment and welfare of seafarers to work onboard fishing vessels operating in the Kenyan waters.

The authority said it has in the recent past received complaints from seafarers relating to their employment agreements, payment of wages and general living and working conditions onboard the fishing vessels.

KMA said Seafarers Employment Agreement requirements set out under Section 119 of the Merchant Shipping Act, 2009 should be adhered to before any seafarer is placed to work onboard.