The Kenyan government has initiated a process to end maritime slavery by reviewing seafarers’ pay and working agreements, a process which has not been carried out for almost three decades.
The move to develop new laws and regulations to govern the sector is aimed at ending extreme poor working conditions of more than 7,000 registered seafarers.
The new agreement will ensure all seafarers are paid the recommended salary according to the International Labour Organization (ILO) minimum pay of Ksh85,000 ($850) as opposed to the current Ksh18,000 ($180) a month.
STRIVING FOR GIVE BETTER TERMS
Maritime and Shipping Affairs Principal Secretary Nancy Karigithu said seafarers are the human face of the maritime sector and usually work in physically and mentally draining conditions. Thus, she said, they need to be well remunerated.
“As we work to make gains on a number of Blue Economy projects in the country, thousands of seafarers who are subjected to different terms and conditions of service in tankers, cruise ships, fishing vessels and cargo ships need to be motivated, that is why we are working on these regulations,” said Ms Karigithu.
“Most vessel owners have taken advantage of the government’s laxity of not developing and implementing minimum salary pay to exploit seafarers not only in Kenya but also in other East African countries.”
The government, she noted, is at an advanced stage in setting up Seafarers Sectoral Wage Council to check on the implementation of the set salary structure in order to attract more people to the sea employment.
The CS said there is need to set internationally accepted safety nets, reliable payment wages and ensure seafarers work with recommended eight hours a day, unless they are paid over time.
Ms Karigithu said hurdles preventing local investors from owning ships should be urgently addressed in order to create more sea jobs.
“The Transport ministry should address bottlenecks that have hindered local investors from owning ships to enhance job creation in this sector which has a lot of potential,” she said.
“The government is making the environment conducive and attractive for even foreigners to bring their ships to be registered in Kenya.”
Many foreign ships have been coming to Mombasa to recruit Kenyan seafarers only to exploit them and even abandon them at sea.
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