The Kenyan government has asked parliament to pass a bill proposing the establishment of the Kenya Coast Guard Service (KCGS), a maritime security force that will operate on the high seas to prevent maritime crimes such as robbery, piracy, drug, arms and people trafficking as well as terrorism.
According to the bill, the service shall be partially staffed by civilian professionals seconded from the Public Service Commission, while trained security service personnel drawn from the police, army and intelligence services will form its rank and file.
The service, which will be commanded by a Director-General, shall be primarily deployed to fight crime in Kenyan territorial waters but can be deployed to work beyond the mandate area to help the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) protect national security and sovereignty in times of war.
The Kenyan Coast Guard Service will also conduct disaster relief operations, search and rescue missions. It will replace the Kenyan Police Service in the provision of security at sea ports country-wide. Other areas of responsibility include the protection of archaeological/historical maritime sites, enforcing sanitation measures and pollution control.
In terms of operations, the service shall have the power to stop, enter and board, search and inspect any structure, place, vessel or aircraft suspected to be engaged in any unlawful activity in Kenyan waters. Its officers shall be empowered to investigate, arrest, detain, interrogate and hand over suspects to the police and the courts for prosecution.
The bill also proposes that the coast guard be led by a top decision making council comprising the Attorney-General, the Chief of Staff of the KDF, the Inspector-General of police, Director-General of the National Intelligence Service and cabinet ministers in charge of the security, finance, defence, transport, fisheries and environment portfolios.
Meanwhile, the Kenyan Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries says the 54 metre-long offshore patrol vessel MV Doria acquired from JGH Marine A/S of Bangladesh last year will start operations this year.
State Department of Fisheries spokesperson Mwaka Barabara said the vessel will be deployed soon to patrol Kenya’s 1 500 nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), primarily to prevent illegal fishing.
“We are now waiting for further instructions from the ministry headquarters in Nairobi about the dates,” Barabara said.
At least 30 marine servicemen have been recruited from the Kenyan Navy personnel to crew the vessel. The vessel has a carrying capacity of 35 crew and a maximum cruising capacity of 35 knots.