Boats being used to transport passengers and goods will not be spared in the ongoing crackdown against vehicles flouting traffic rules.
Lamu County Commissioner Joseph Kanyiri said coxswains and passengers who fail to comply with the laws and regulations pertaining to water transport across Lamu County will be arrested and prosecuted.
Lamu has over 5,000 boat operators in various islands.
Speaking to Shipping on Tuesday, Mr Kanyiri asked all boat operators in the region to ensure they are armed with all the necessary legal documentation permitting them to carry out their businesses.
Mr Kanyiri told boat owners to ensure their vessels are approved and registered with the necessary bodies including the Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA) and the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA).
He said his office was on the high alert and asked the boat operators to prepare for a massive crackdown on all sea vessels that are not compliant with the maritime regulations.
Unlike other parts of the country where travelling is by road, Lamu’s transport is mainly through the sea.
Mr Kanyiri said all sea users must adhere to the set rules and regulations pertaining to marine transport.
He said more marine police have been deployed in the Indian Ocean to oversee adherence to the rule of law.
“I want to make it clear to the public that the ongoing crackdown for vehicles failing to meet the required traffic rules will also target all boat operators in Lamu. We have very few vehicles operating in this region and as we try to cooperate with the NTSA in a move to have the vehicle owners and passengers comply with the Michuki rules, we are also advising boat operators to ensure their vessels comply with the requirements by the Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA, failure to which we will arrest and prosecute you,” said Mr Kanyiri.
Lamu County Police Commander Muchangi Kioi warned boat operators against overloading and speeding.
Mr Kioi said boat owners whose vessels don’t have the necessary safety gear, including life jackets, will be charged with negligence and their vessels impounded.
“As we conduct crackdown on vehicles on road, boat operators and passengers should also be informed that we will be coming for them. From today henceforth, all boat operators must carry with them licences from the necessary bodies allowing them to conduct their business,” said Mr Kioi.
“It’s also necessary to ensure each vessel is registered with the KMA or KPA. The crackdown is already on and those arrested shall serve as an example to the rest.”
But boat operators who talked to Shipping in Lamu Town urged the government to spare them from Michuki rules saying their business is already dwindling following the newly implemented 8 percent VAT increment on petroleum products.
“It’s unfair for us to be subjected to the stresses of Michuki rules. We are already suffering from the 8 percent VAT implemented in September. Let them spare us if they care for our trade or else we will be forced to close the business,” said Mr Musa Iddi, a boat operator.