Shipping & Logistics

New rules for vessels in bid to boost marine safety

Ferryarrested2205ygv

Police officers and officials from the Kenya Maritime Authority arrests boat owners in Mbita Town, Homa Bay County during a crackdown on unsafe water vessels on Lake Victoria. FILE PHOTO | NMG

BDgeneric_logo

Summary

  • Marine vessel owners will have to obtain registration numbers for their boats and ships in new regulations aimed at stepping up marine safety.
  • Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA) Director General Robert Njue said the registration process of marine vessels will have details of the owner, licensing and the identification number.

Marine vessel owners will have to obtain registration numbers for their boats and ships in new regulations aimed at stepping up marine safety.

Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA) Director General Robert Njue said the registration process of marine vessels will have details of the owner, licensing and the identification number.

“This process is meant to ensure safety of passengers, and weed out water vessels that do illegal activities in the water bodies,” said Mr Njue.

The process of registration of vessels, he said will help in identifying seaworthiness of the boats and ships operating in the Kenyan waters.

“We will not have cases of identification number owned by two people. In terms of law enforcement, we will directly approach the vessel owner,” said Mr Njue during an interview at Prosperity House in Kisumu County.

The new rules come at a time when the number of lives being lost in water vessel accidents is rising. On Saturday five people drowned in Lake Victoria following a boat accident in Seme, Kisumu.

Last year November, 10 people drowned after the boat they were travelling in capsized near Honge Beach in Bondo, Siaya County. The 20 passenger boat was transporting maize and bananas from Uganda to Usenge, Siaya County.

In 2019 KMA banned 500 marine vessels from operating at the Kisumu’s Winam Gulf for failure to comply with maritime regulations. Majority of marine vessels have not met the safety requirements and have therefore been rendered unseaworthy.

Maritime accidents on Kenyan waters have been increasing in the past 10 years, with the majority caused by human error.

According to the KMA, 50 percent of the accidents involve capsizing of vessels while 40 percent are drowning cases related to unseaworthy vessels.

In the western region, Homa Bay County is leading in marine accidents.

“For the past 10 years we have recorded about 242 deaths and 330 survivors of marine accidents at the lake, but Al the number might be more considering there are many unreported cases,”Mr Njue said.

KMA also plans to set up two rescue centres in Homa Bay and Migori counties, to coordinate search and rescue in the two counties. Mr Njue said the centre will have communication system that enables it to receive distress messages from any vessel “within our search and rescue region”.

"The centre will have a 24-hour watch to ensure prompt receipt and dissemination of distress messages from ships plying the search and rescue region," said Mr Njue. "Watch keepers in the centre monitor distress frequencies, relay distress messages, acknowledge distress calls and assist in SAR mission coordination."

He said the governors of Homa Bay and Migori have provided land for rescue centre.

"Because of the financial budget we have allocated this year we are starting the two rescue centres," said Mr Njue.

He disclosed that the agency is looking for space at the Kisumu Inland Port to have regional rescue centre.