The Cabinet has approved the Kenya Coast Guard Service Bill, setting in motion the country’s long-held plan of having a special agency to protect its coastline.
The Bill, which was signed on Thursday during a Cabinet meeting chaired by President Uhuru Kenyatta, has been on ice for three years.
The proposed law seeks to guide the establishment of a Kenya Coast Guard Service (KCGS) as a specialised law-enforcement agency to deal with maritime issues, a role currently undertaken by the Kenya Navy.
“The Kenya Navy is not legally and operationally equipped for law enforcement, particularly in territorial and international waters,” states the Cabinet’s brief.
“Maritime law-enforcement would be KCGS’s main responsibility.” President Kenyatta first floated the idea of setting up the KCGS in January 2014 citing increased cases of drug trafficking, illegal fishing, piracy and dumping of harmful waste in Kenya’s waters.
Kenya has a long coastline which borders countries such as lawless Somalia and runs more than 600kms into the high seas. Apart from the Kenya Navy, the government has also been relying on agencies such as Kenya Police Service, Kenya Ports Authority, Kenya Wildlife Service and Kenya Revenue Authority to safeguard its coastline.