Lamu,KENYA:The national government has launched the Mvuvi card that will enable Lamu fishermen to be easily identified by security personnel as they go about their fishing ventures on the Indian Ocean.
The launch took place at the Mwana Arafa hotel in Lamu town on Friday.
Atleast 300 fishermen were handed the Mvuvi cards which basically contain all the major identification information of the fishermen including their National Identity card numbers,a special serial number and their respective beach management Units-BMUs.
The cards have also been installed with a microchip that will enable security officers to monitor and be able to know where each individual fisherman is on the ocean.
The new cards will enable the fishermen conduct their activities without being harassed by security agencies over the issue of identification.
These comes as a relief for fishermen in the region who have endured a seven year night fishing ban that has seen many of them literally drop the venture.
Previous reports have indicated that Al shabaab militants have posed as fishermen so as to gain access to Lamu through the porous Somalia border.
The same avenue has been used by Al shabaab recruitment agents who pose as fishermen while actually ferrying radicalized youth in and out of Somalia via the Indian Ocean in Lamu.
Armed with these among other factors,security officers have numerously been reported to harass fishermen found fishing at night on suspecting that they could actually be militants.
The fishermen in these cases have been unable to prove their mission since many don’t carry their ID cards whenever they go fishing.
Those given first priority to access the cards are those from Ishakani and Kiunga areas that are located on the immediate border of Lamu and Somalia.
Speaking then,Lamu County Deputy Commissioner Loius Rono said the cards will enable the security office in the region to easily sift out suspects from the real fishermen.
In April this year,a total of 400 fishermen receive the same Mvuvi cards in the first phase of the exercise.
A total of 4500 fisher persons in Lamu are targeted for the cards.
Rono said the launch of the Mvuvi card was a revolutionary moment in the security management of the region and urged all fishermen to fully cooperate with all security units to ensure marine security and that of the entire county is at its best.
“What we did today was the second phase.We did the first in April.The same process continues until all the over 4500 fishermen here all receive these cards.What matters is that security of Lamu is guaranteed at all costs,”said Rono.
Lamu governor Fahim Twaha expressed confidence that the move would greatly improve the sector which had dimmed due to the seven year night fishing ban which he said left many reeling in poverty in a region where majority depend on fishing as a livelihood.
“Lamu cant do without fishing,we have survived on this sector for decades and I must say the ban was not doing it any good but now with these cards,the fishermen will still go out there and fish and live their lives as before,”said Twaha.
Lamu East MP Athman Shariff urged the fishermen to form formidable unions that will enable them access loans and improve their trade.