The government has trained its guns on private owners of jetties and landing sites which are reportedly being used for illicit trades.
This is after it emerged that there are more than 600 private jetties and landing sites which are not covered by the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) code.
The ISPS code is concerned with security measures on maritime vessels and port facilities. According to a survey by the Kenya Coast Guard Service (KCGS), there are 693 unregistered jetties that are currently uncontrolled by the maritime security agents.
Following the revelation, the government has now ordered all the private jetties and landing sites in the country to be reviewed and registered afresh.
Interior CS Fred Matiang’i said many of the private jetties are being used in illegal trade including transportation of narcotics.
“Some of these private jetties have given us challenges because they have been used to move illegal goods and drugs. I therefore want us to start the process of reviewing and re-registering afresh all those more than 600 private jetties and landing sites especially here at the Coast,” said Dr Matiang’i.
It is important, the CS said, that the landing sites are reviewed and registered by the Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA) to allow for their inspection.
He said it is only through the new registration that the government will be able to understand “who is operating a jetty and how they are doing the right thing with the landing sites.”
“The aim of the exercise will be to ensure that we provide security and support genuine and clean business. We will do whatever it takes to ensure that we give the capacity to our agencies. I will therefore engage my counterparts in the Ministry of Transport to ensure that this is done,” added the CS.
He spoke last week during the inception conference of “Know Your Customer” framework for import and export sector at White Sands Hotel in Mombasa,
At the workshop, KCGS director general Naisho Loonena raised concerns on the use of the unregistered landing sites and jetties in maritime crimes including smuggling of counterfeit goods, wildlife trophies and narcotics. Many of the landing sites used for the illegal trade are those in Lamu, Kilifi and Mombasa counties.
In Mombasa, for instance some of the drug barons arrested in the county were found to have sneaked in their drug hauls through their private jetties.
For that reason, the government is also seeking to form a policy framework that will tackle the transnational organised crimes with specific focus being those committed on the sea.
Dr Matiang’i noted that there is a “serious” problem when it comes to checking on what is coming into the country.
The CS said Kenya, being the gateway of trade in East Africa, has seen its port being used for the illicit trade.
He said despite the port business growing, the government has witnessed challenges that come with the growth of the facility.
“We need to pay attention to our port and see how best we can deal with the white collar crimes that have been witnessed. We must know our customers for us to be able to trace them,” said Dr Matiang’i.
He noted that the illicit trade has been generating direct and indirect revenue for terrorists and other criminal to advance their activities in the country.
The CS said that the following the evolving of technology, the country is facing new threats on transnational crimes.
“…criminals and terrorists no longer solely rely on physical weaponry to advance their activities, instead they are banking on new technologies to bypass even the most complex security layers, he added.
The Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Noordin Haji said the envisaged legal framework would provide a policy direction with clear regulations and guidelines that would inject transparency and accountability in port operations.
The DPP whose office will be key in the formation of the framework said the policy would also help in giving clear directions in the investigations of complex offences especially at the Port of Mombasa which is the main conduit of crimes.
Mr Haji said lack of a regulatory framework on due diligence by importers and exporters has made it difficult for investigators to probe crimes especially at the Mombasa port.
“The evolving nature of crimes calls for responsive structures and mechanisms for both investigation and prosecution of the criminal activities committed in the process of trade,” said Mr Haji.