Kenya has heightened its war against transnational organized crime in its terrestrial borders by unveiling a one of its kind training facility to boost enforcement capacity of maritime security.
Shipping and Maritime affairs Principal secretary Nancy Karigithu said the launch of the – Visit, Board, Search and Seizure Simulator, (VBS3) commonly known as “Ship in a Box”, shows the governments commitment to enhance capacity for enforcement of maritime security so as to effectively counter transnational crimes.
The ‘Ship in a Box’ is a structure on land that simulates a ship to facilitate training of maritime law enforcement officers such as those from the Kenya Coast Guard Service, Kenya Navy among others on how to board, search a ship and undertake seizures, with a view to enhancing capacity for enforcement of maritime security.
“This training aid will not only benefit our officers but also the Academy in being able to deliver such specialized courses in the region. This equipment gets to deliver the real experience in a ship,” said Karigithu.
Kenya has been grappling with crimes and threats, like terrorism, weapons proliferation, transnational crimes, piracy, and illegal wildlife and drugs trafficking and with enforced training capacity to enforcement agencies, it will tighten their skills and knowledge on how to counter the vice.
“In order to realize the lofty ideals of developing a sustainable maritime sector, there is an urgent need for highly skilled and qualified maritime law enforcement personnel,” said Karigithu during the official launch of the facility at the Bandari College.
She added ‘This critical infrastructure was designed and constructed by our notable Development partners, the United States Department of State, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (US INL) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) under the Global Maritime Crime Programme’. Retired General Samson Mwathethe who was the chief guest stated that failure to effectively search vessels for drugs and interdict crime in this sector has serious consequences on trade, security and social development in the country and the region.
“The facility, made of standard shipping containers assembled to take the design of the bridge of a merchant vessel will provide near real life experience for our Coast Guard and other law enforcement agencies to train on boarding procedures while conducting inspections aboard merchant ships,” said Mwathethe.
According to Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (US INL) representative Kevan Higgins, the US organization is keen to sponsor more programs in the college to make it a global center of excellence.
Speaking at the launch held at the Bandari Maritime academy in Mombasa, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) deputy regional representative Sylvie Bertrand said the facility provides an opportunity for Kenya to beat transnational organized crime in the Indian Ocean.
“The Global Maritime Crime Programme of UNODC supports Member States in strengthening maritime law enforcement capacities to counter illicit activities at sea,” said Bertrad.
“This is an honor to Bandari college that we can be moving forward to contribute to the economy. This is a significant growth to us,”said Kinandu Muragu,the Board of management BOM chair at Bandari Maritime college.
The institution has been lacking the facility to facilitate training, but after it’s installation, players say it will improve teaching standards and also help spur the country’s economy.
“We have 4000 to train between now and 2022, and one of the facilities that were missing is this ship in a box, and now that we have it we will give the best training in line with global standards,” said Muragu.
Globally there are 9million seafarers and About 3000 Kenyans are registered as Kenyan seafarers working for different vessels locally and internationally, therefore Kenya is keen to ensure quality professionalism on matters of blue economy and Maritime affairs.
Bandari Maritime Academy (BMA) was established via Legal Notice No. 233 of 28th November 2018. BMA’s main objective is to develop skills for the Blue Economy and research for Kenya and the region.