State raises the alarm over seafarers hiring at Mombasa port

Nancy Karigithu, the Shipping Affairs PS. file photo | nmg
Nancy Karigithu, the Shipping Affairs PS. file photo | nmg 

The government has raised the alarm over illegal recruitment of personnel working for ships docking at the Mombasa port.

The law requires that all persons who serve on board Kenyan ships and all seafarers of Kenyan nationality serving on board foreign ships must be hired or fired through the office of the Registrar of Seafarers. It also demands agents hiring seafarers be registered by the State.

Maritime and Shipping Affairs Principal Secretary Nancy Karigithu says the hiring is a breach of the law.

“The Act aims to guarantee the welfare of the seafarer while he/she is outside the jurisdiction of the Kenyan maritime administration, in terms of adequate wages, payment of those wages on a regular basis, hours of work and other social welfare minimums,” said Ms Karigithu.

Any person who contravenes the law is liable to a fine of Sh100,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, or both.

The government should have a record of the employment and the travel of the seafarers out of the country. The alarm comes amid increased traffic at the port of Mombasa, helped by increased efficiency after its handling capacity was expanded, drawing many shipping lines.

The port handled 15 million tonnes of cargo between January and June compared with 13.4 million in similar period last year.

The port, a major trade gateway to east Africa, handles imports such as fuel for Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan and the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The improvement came despite uncertainty ahead of the August elections, which have since been nullified. Kenya will hold a fresh presidential election on October 26.

Last year, Kenya commissioned a second container terminal worth $300 million.