Lamu,KENYA:Kenya Maritime Authority-KMA has ordered a crackdown on the tourist vessels not observing maritime laws.
The KMA Lamu Director Alex Munga said boat operators were clearly breaking the rules in order to make tourists happy,a move says not only endangers the lives of tourists and the operators but also that of other sea users.
Speaking in his office on Thursday,Munga said tourist boats operating from Lamu town to Shella,Manda,Mokowe and Matondoni were the major culprits.
He said his office is working with the Kenya Navy,Maritime Police unit and the office of the county commissioner to carry out the crackdown.
Munga said maritime rules must and should be adhered to and respected by all,locals and tourists alike.
He said all sea users whether locals or tourists must observe the safety rules top among them being the wearing of life jackets before travelling at sea and that any vessels flouting thr rules will be apprehended and their operation licenses cancelled.
He said it was a punishable crime for boat operators to carry passengers who aren’t wearing life jackets.
Munga also warned against overloading and over speeding as sea saying its also a punishable crime that greatly endangers the lives of those onboard and other sea users.
“Tourist boats have openly been breaking maritime rules.They would rather make tourists happy than safe.Such mistakes can result in fatal disasters.Tourists on such vessels don’t wear jackets.They overspeed.They engage in all manner of hullabaloo just to make the tourist happy.Our major concern is the safety of that tourist and that of other sea users.Maritie laws must be respected by all,no favors,”said Munga.
This comes just a day after the KMA distributed a total of 200 life jackets to Lamu boat associations in a bid to cultivate a safety-first culture among boat operators in the town.
Addressing the public at the Lamu Customs Jetty on Thursday,KMA Board Director Ishmael Mboya urged sailors,boat operators and the general public to adhere to maritime requirements and also called on all stakeholders to cooperate with the KMA in ensuring safety at sea.
Mboya noted that many accidents occurring at sea in Lamu county were as a result of failure by sea farers to observe maritime laws including wearing of life saving gear while at sea.
He said the KMA shall work hand in hand with the office of the county commissioner Lamu to ensure all maritime laws are observed in order to reduce fatalities.
Mboya has also called upon all associations that received the life jackets to act as goodwill ambassadors of the authority by ensuring all passengers aboard their vessels wear life jackets.
He also asked all boat and dhow operators to have all their vessels registered by the KMA before operating at sea.
At least 99% of travelling in Lamu town and other islands is done at sea.