Kenya given nod to sign in 27 seafarers

Kenya is positioning itself in the maritime industry after it was given a go ahead to allow Kenyan 27 youths to go back to work as seafarers.

This comes less than a month after the country accepted seafarers’ crew change through Port of Mombasa following the COVID-19 pandemic that shuttered maritime states borders, leaving thousands of sailors stranded aboard ships in the high-seas for months.

The International Maritime Organization has developed a 12-step process for states to adopt in a bid to make crew changes safe and efficient. IMO ia also lobbying countries to designate port workers as essential workers.

After signing the IMO charter on Crew Change, Kenya joined 13 countries other countries that have ratified the charter to open up borders for seafarers and to increase the number of commercial flights to expedite seafarers repatriation efforts. The charter was agreed upon following an international crew change summit held in London 9th July, 2020.

Kenya became the second African country after Djibouti, to open its borders for thousands of seafarers who had been denied entry into foreign countries due to the COVID-19.

Speaking to Inside Government on Kenya Broadcasting Corporation Department of Shipping and Maritime affairs Principal Secretary Nancy Karigithu noted that crew changeovers are essential for the continuity of shipping safely and sustainably saying Kenya should position itself as a crew change destination.

“If we make Mombasa a crew change destination this will mean growing a bigger pie for Kenya,” said PS Karigithu.

The PS said the maritime industry in Kenya had put in place measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 way before the government spelt out the mandatory quarantine protocols.

The global Maritime transport depends on the 2 million seafarers who operate the world’s merchant ships.

The Kenyans who were working on passenger ships lost their jobs but those on cargo ships are still at work together with the technical staff on passenger ships.

By Kenya accepting seafarers’ crew change means that young people have an opportunity to work in the maritime industry even during this COVID-19 period.

“Immediately we told IMO we are open for seafarers crew change, we managed to send some Ukrainians, Romanians among others home and we now have 30 staff signed on and are looking to sign in more, said PS Karigithu.

Globally there are over 200,000 seafarers who are stranded at sea and have overrun their contracts with another 200,000 waiting to start employment and get paid by working at sea.

Kenyans too have not been spared, PS Karigithu said seven Kenyans stranded in America are expected in the country early next month.

Ships carry more than 80 percent of global trade by volume, such as food, energy, raw materials and manufactured goods.


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