By Esther Mbaau
The Kenya Maritime Authority, the Kenya Ports Authority and the County Government of Lamu are caught on a crossroad as to who is mandated to collect licensing fees from boat owners operating in the area.
Lamu Boat Owners Association Chairman Yahya Ahmed says boat owners in Lamu have been forced to remit licensing fees to the three institutions at the same time which they term as exploitation.
According to the Lamu Boat Owners Association, the three institutions, the Kenya Maritime Authority, the Kenya Ports Authority and the County Government of Lamu usually collect licensing fees from all boats operating in Lamu, claiming that they each are mandated to collect the fees according to the Kenyan constitution.
This has left boat owners in the region paying more money than necessary to acquire their licenses.
The boat owners now want the three institutions to reach a consensus on who among them should collect the licensing fees.
The boat owners have also decried the lack of skills by the search and rescue team in the county saying that despite the Kenya Maritime Authority having a boat meant for rescue efforts, the locals have time and again been forced to use their boats and unskilled manpower for the purpose.
In response to these sentiments, the Kenya Maritime Authority has promised to address the issues raised by the boat owners including providing job opportunities for the youth in the region.
KMA says while the institution is mandated to collect licensing fees, both the county government and the Kenya Ports Authority have different mandates to collect levies as well.