The fight against maritime crimes in Kenya got a boost after the US and Kenya's coast guard partnered to reduce unlawful activities in the Indian Ocean.
Other agencies involved include the United States Department of State, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (US INL) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
The partners under the Global Maritime Crime Programme will work together in offering technical assistance on training, arresting and prosecuting perpetrators of drug traffickers, terrorism, illegal fishing and other vices in the Indian Ocean.
East African UNDOC deputy regional representative Sylvie Bertrand said maritime crime is still a challenge to many countries not only in the region but internationally.
International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kevan Higgins said the programme will use Bandari Maritime Academy (BMA) in Mombasa for the training.
Speaking during the official handing over and opening of the Visit, Board, Search & Seizure Simulator, commonly known as “Ship in a Box” at BMA, Mr Kevan said the facility will not only be used by Kenya but other EAC states to train on how to combat maritime organized crime.
The Head of Oceans and Blue Economy Office Gen. (Rtd.) Samson Mwathethe said the simulator launched in Kenya is a crucial milestone not only for the academy but for Kenya and the region as it will provide enhanced training for the control of maritime crimes and drugs in our maritime waters.
“The failure to effectively search vessels for drugs and interdict crime in this sector has serious consequences on trade, security and social development in the country and the region,” said Mr Mwathethe.
The simulator facility, made of standard shipping containers assembled to take the design of the bridge of a merchant's vessel, will provide near real-life experience for Coast Guard and other law enforcement agencies to train onboarding procedures while conducting inspections aboard merchant ships.