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Kenya awaits merchant law

NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 4 – A Merchant Shipping Bill that is awaiting Presidential assent will allow Kenyans to own ships for the first time ever.

Transport Minister Chirau Mwakwere says the new law will revolutionise the maritime industry in the country which has lagged behind due to the lack of a proper legislative framework.

“For the first time we have a maritime law that will empower Kenya to become a true maritime nation,” Mr Mwakwere said. “We are the only country that has an ocean front 300 miles and we are doing nothing.”

Mr Mwakwere noted that for a long time Kenyans could not own ships because of the lack of a law recognised by the International Maritime Organisation.

"The passage of the Bill will allow training of seafarers that will create more lucrative jobs for people in the shipping industry," Mr Mwakwere said.

He said among the beneficial clauses is one that would make it compulsory for 51 percent ownership of shipping companies to be local.

“We have international organisations which own ships, the shipping companies, tracking companies and even the containers in Mombasa. All the money that is paid to them is paid overseas not in Kenya,” said the Minister.

The Transport Minister said the Bill would further allow the country to train personnel in the industry who would receive international recognition and thus be able to work anywhere in the world.

The Bill was passed by Parliament in February this year.

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