The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) in partnership with Japan International Cooperation (JICA), and United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) has launched a new patrol boat to reinforce security along Lake Victoria.
The KRA said the vessel, launched on 19 March, is christened MV KRA 007 and is being deployed to patrol and engage in the surveillance of Kenyan territorial waters along Muhuru Bay. The boat will enable the KRA to eliminate illicit trade and secure the borders along the lake.
The boat will be used to protect the Kenyan economic zone from illegal activities including smuggling. The new Yamaha W31 boat can transport up to 20 passengers at a speed of 30 knots.
Speaking during the event, KRA Western Region Coordinator Jonah Ogaro said that the purchase of the new boat is a momentous step in the fight against illicit trade and securing the border points.
According to the International Maritime Organization, over 90 per cent of the world’s trade is carried by sea, calling for the need to secure Kenya’s territorial waters from illicit trade, which include importation of illegal weapons, counterfeit goods, narcotic drugs, and other prohibited and restricted goods.
Illicit trade has deprived the government of the much-needed revenue, brought unfair competition in the market, and jeopardized consumer health and safety. The KRA said it has therefore concerted the fight against the importation of contraband goods using surveillance, intelligence sharing, and collaboration with other relevant agencies.
“The new boat will therefore boost capacity in mitigating cross-border crime and increasing the country’s intelligence gathering, and information sharing ability among border control agencies.”
The deployment of surveillance boats by KRA along the waters has enabled the Authority to seal revenue loopholes and boost revenue collection. For example, since the deployments of the vessel along Usenge and Mbita Stations, the revenue collection performance have increased by 200 percent and the compliance level has grown by 300 percent.
In the period between July and December 2020, the KRA through the maritime Unit facilitates trade worth Sh500 million ($4.5 million) in the western region. The unit has also intercepted illegal goods worth Sh15 million ($135 000). The goods that were intercepted while being smuggled into the country were later destroyed according to the law.