By Glena Nyamwaya
The Ministry of transport has penned an agreement with the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) for the revival of the Kenya National Shipping Line (KNSL). T h e s i g n i n g of t h e Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia and the MSC first Vice President Capt Giovanni Cuomo took place in State House Nairobi witnessed by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
This came hot on the heels of a cabinet meeting’s approval to revive the sleeping giant that was facing insolvency due to lack of business and huge debts. The signing of the deal is expected to create over 10,000 jobs in the coastal region and save the country about Sh 300 billion spent annually when using other shipping lines.
S pe a k i n g d u r i n g th e ceremony, President Kenyatta said the revival of the shipping line was a priority for Kenya because it will create jobs for thousands of Kenyans. “We are very keen to revive the shipping line. And we are confident that we can run the shipping line again,” Kenyatta said. The Head of State welcomed the government’s partnership with the MSC, one of the leading global container shipping companies in the world. The president said he expects the relevant teams to work with dedication and speed so that the shipping line is launched soon.
“This is a valued partnership between Kenya and the private sector. I look forward to launching the shipping line soon,” he added. The Cabinet recovery strategy for KNSL’s revival proposed, among other things, giving the company the sole mandate to handle government cargo in what is expected to revive the shipping line that has been on its knees for years.
The shipping line is expected to once again become an active participant in international seaborne trade, which accounts for a significant percentage of Kenya’s total trade. Apart from reviving the shipping line, the move will see Bandari College upgraded into an academy and a centre of excellence to train the people that will work in the shipping line. International Transport Federation Mombasa Port Inspector Betty Makena said the move was good news for jobless Kenyan seafarers.
“We have our own locally sanctioned tertiary and university colleges that have a combined student population of about 3,000 requiring sea time training aboard vessels that call at the Port of Mombasa. Currently this batch of students have nowhere to turn to but once we have KNSL fully operational, we shall be able to take on board the jobless and students for sea time trainings,” she said.
This revival is set to transform the City of Mombasa into a transshipment hub in the region and is a huge boost to the ongoing efforts to mainstream blue economy as an important economic activity in the country. KNSL was established in the 1987 as the national carrier for seaborne trade. H o w e v e r, y e a r s o f mismanagement led to its near collapse necessitating the current proactive efforts to restart its operations.
M e a nw h il e , Ke nya i s scheduled to host the Global Sustainable Blue Economy Conference (SBEC) from November 26th to 28th, 2018 in Nairobi. Over 4000 participants who will discuss issues surrounding a blue economy strategy that promotes People Centered Sustainable Investments in the sector will attend the conference. According to the World Bank, components of the blue economy include established traditional ocean industries such as fisheries, tourism, and maritime transport