Over 160 Boat operators at the Malindi Marine National Park and Reserve, who have been on strike for the last 12 days, have resumed operations.
This follows a truce between the boat operators and the park’s management brokered by Coast Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Assistant Director Arthur Todor after hours of intensive negotiations.
The announcement by the Malindi Boat Operators Association has come as a great relief to holidaymakers this festive season, who have had to miss out on important marine excursions after failing to get transport into the marine park.
“We are now in full operation and are calling on local and international tourists to visit the park in large numbers,” the association’s chairman, Twalib Albeity, said.
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His sentiments were echoed by a veteran boat operator, Ali Baba, who said most of the boat operators’ concerns had been addressed by Tudor.
“We have been having a good relationship with KWS until a few days to Christmas when the park’s management introduced new levies which angered us,” he said. “We are glad that our concerns have been addressed.”
The boat operators had downed their tools to protest at the management’s decision to introduce new regulations and levies without consulting them.
Among issues that led to the strike was a directive to park all motorcycles outside the compound of the marine park offices, with those wishing to go into the compound being charged a fee.
This directive, they claimed, was inconveniencing to them, since they were being forced to carry heavy equipment from outside the park to their boats, and that their motorcycle’s security was not assured outside the compound.
They also said they were also forced to pay parking fees for boats under repair.
Tudor urged holidaymakers to visit the park in large numbers as boats were available and ready to provide services to those who require them.
Njeru Kimani, a tourist from Nairobi, expressed joy at the resumption of the boat operations, noting that he would have a chance to venture into the sea and to have a feel of the marine experience.