The Lamu Boat Operators Association has revealed plans to issue special identity cards to all qualified coxswains in Lamu County. The move is aimed at weeding out fake boat operators in the region.
Lamu has over 5,000 coxswains operating in the various islands in the archipelago.
Speaking to Shipping on Tuesday, the boat operators association chairman Hassan Awadh said the move is also aimed at ensuring safety of travellers.
Mr Awadh said there has been an emerging trend by boat owners to give their vessels to unqualified coxswains to operate them.
He said the association has already embarked on sending members for training at the Bandari College in Mombasa in order to acquire certificates on seafarer jobs.
“We are recognising the importance of having qualified coxswains in the Lamu waters. That’s why as an organisation, we have sent more than 100 youth to the Bandari College in Mombasa where they were trained and issued with certificates on seafarer jobs especially after completing basic safety training,”said Mr Awadh.
Our target is to ensure almost all the coxswains in Lamu are qualified for the job. In fact we will be issuing special IDs to all the qualified coxswains. This will make it easy for our clients to know the kind of people boarding their vessels.”
Mr Ahmed Musa, a commuter, lauded the plan to issue special IDs to its members.
Mr Musa said maritime transport is the lifeline of Lamu adding that improving its safety is crucial.
“Currently, it’s a challenge for us to identify who are qualified coxswains and who are quacks. By having a special identity card, we will be able to tell who are qualified boat operators and those who are not. That will generally improve marine safety,” said Mr Musa.
Fatma Athman, a boat operator, appealed to the Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA) to ensure the Lamu coxswains know what is expected of them.
“Most of the coxswains here are unaware of the required legal framework. It’s therefore important for the KMA to make safety awareness a key focus for boat owners, passengers and even the persons transporting their cargo using maritime transport,” said Ms Athman.
Recently, Lamu County Commissioner Joseph Kanyiri appealed to boat operators in the county to ensure their safety and that of passengers boarding their vessels is guaranteed.