[WILD_SEAS] UN URGED TO HELP KENYA IN MARINE DISASTER PREVENTION

From: wildnet (wildnet@ecoterra.net)
Date: Sun Mar 18 2001 - 10:33:27 EST


UN URGED TO HELP KENYA
IN MARINE CONTROL AND
DISASTER PREVENTION

NAIROBI, March 19 - The United Nations should help Kenya in building
the capacity to prevent and combat oil spills and other marine
disasters, CoastWatch Kenya has urged in a faxed statement today.

A major oil-spill, which would wipe out the entire life of Kenya's coral
reefs and also damage the struggling coast tourism seriously, is
predicted by CoastWatch, if Kenya does not immediately impose a ban
concerning all freigthers without double-hull-system, who are
transporting oil or other dangerous cargo through Kenya's Exclusive
Economic Zone (EEZ), which extends up to 200 nautical miles off the
Kenya coast.

"The international port of Mombasa and the Indian Ocean waters off Kenya
have high traffic of oil tankers and freighters, many of which are
sub-standard, a situation that calls for better control and disaster
preparedness. It is known, that the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA), the
Coast Development Authority and the Kenya Navy do not have the capacity
to handle any serious oil spill or accident", Tsuma Charo, Executive
Director of CoastWatch, states. He claims that, while Mombasa port's
offshore telecommunication equipment and piloting services are run down,
land grabbing has led to illegal multi-storeyed buildings around the
watchtower on the island side of Likoni Channel.This has compromised the
safety while ships approach the entrance to Mombasa's natural harbor,
Kilindini. KPA's pool of pilots, who guide ships into the port, is
ageing, the training provided is not at the right pace to keep up with
demand and pilots, who were to go on retirement, are still working due
to lack of new recruits, Mr. Charo added. Likewise the port's tugboots,
used to dock big ships, are old and few and docking therefore has become
a problem especially in times of high traffic, the statement continues.

Kenya therefore needs financial and technical assistance to carry out
ship inspections implementing International Maritime Organisation (IMO)
standards, rules and regulations for safety and environmental protection
as well as for disaster prevention, preparedness and mitigation.The
failure by Kenya to enforce international conventions concerning the
marine environment and ship inspection has made Mombasa a haven for
rogue ships, running away from areas of stricter rules implemented in
other countries. Sub-standard ships from the far East as well as from
Eastern- or Southern Europe, under flags of convenience from Belize,
Honduras, Panama etc., whose real ownership is often diffused by unclear
company-structures of well connected individuals, are said to have
crowded Mombasa, engaging even in drug trafficking, the smuggling of oil
and other commodities as well as in illegal fishing.

Kenya has shown committment to protect its marine and coastal
environment, since it banned trawling and halted coastal mining, but the
task of implementing and enforcing environmental protection against the
malpractices of a rogue shipping industry, requires means not easily
available to the Kenyan Authorities. CoastWatch Kenya belives that UNEP,
UNIDO and the IMO have a duty to fight environmental crime and
degradation by extending technical and financial aid to Kenya for better
disaster preparedness, to improve the management of its ports and to
control its territorial waters.

--------------
for further information contact:
Mr. Tsuma Charo
Executive Director
COAST WATCH KENYA
coastwatch.kenya@gmx.net

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