The fight against maritime crimes in Kenya got a boost on Thursday when different agencies announced a partnership to reduce criminal activities in the Indian Ocean.
The agencies are the Kenya Coast Guard Service, United States Department of State, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
The partners, under the Global Maritime Crime Programme, will work together to offer technical assistance on training, arresting and prosecuting drug traffickers, terrorism, illegal fishing and other vices.
East African UNODC deputy regional representative Sylvie Bertrand said maritime crime is still a challenge for many countries.
Kevan Higgins, of the International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs at the US Embassy in Nairobi, said the programme will use the Bandari Maritime Academy (BMA) in Mombasa for the training.
Speaking at BMA during the official handing over and opening of the Visit, Board, Search & Seizure Simulator, commonly known as “ship in a box”, Mr Higgins said the facility will not only be used by Kenya but other EAC states to train personnel to combat maritime organised crime.
The head of Kenya’s Oceans and Blue Economy Office, Gen (Rtd.) Samson Mwathethe, said the simulator launched in Kenya is a crucial milestone not only for the academy but for Kenya and the region as it will provide enhanced training for personnel who will tackle maritime crimes.
“The 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 “ship in a box” is therefore an important training facility for maritime police units and the Coast Guard Service,” Mr Mwathethe said.
He added: “It is expected that this facility will enhance the academy and other maritime education and training (MET) as the first entry point in a ship for the students and other maritime security teams.”
The simulator, made of standard shipping containers assembled to look like the bridge of a merchant vessel, will provide near real-life experience for the Coast Guard and other law enforcement agencies to train on boarding procedures while conducting inspections aboard merchant ships.
It is essentially designed to provide law enforcement agencies with a self-training capability to continue developing and rehearsing skills.