The Kenyan ministry of Internal Security has grounded three patrol boats belonging to the Coastal Marine Police Unit because they have broken down, nearly one year after being commissioned into service by the late internal security minister George Saitoti.
Coastal Marine Police Unit commander Stanley Lamai said patrol boats MV Pate, MV Hinga and MV Kiboko, are out of service due to engine failure. He said all the three patrol boats need new engines.
“We are presently sourcing for funds from treasury to acquire new engines from Netherlands but government bureaucracy is delayed the process,” Lamai told local media. The breakdown of the three boats is seen as a major setback to Kenya’s fight against major maritime crimes on its coastline. Drug trafficking, human trafficking, arms trafficking and ivory smuggling are among the major headaches faced by Kenya’s security and maritime authorities in Mombasa, Lamu and Malindi where other Coastal Marine Police patrol boats are presently deployed.
Deputy head of the national Marine Department unit Samson Chalo Nzioka said the country is now left with three patrol boats, the MV Fluzi, MV Transmara and MV Tana. However the efficiency of the patrol fleet has been cast into doubt by police sources who told the media that the MV Tana is leaking. They further alleged that the MV Transmara, which is one of the boats captured from Somali pirates by the Kenyan Navy in the Indian Ocean, has a limited range because it is a harbour boat which is too small for the high seas.
Apart from boat trouble, Lamai said the Coastal Police Marine Unit lacks experienced sailors, especially coxswains whom he said were not trained to handle the new boats prior to the deployments in Mombasa, Malindi and Lamu. The marine police unit now relies heavily on Kenyan Navy patrol boats but because of its heavy engagement in Somalia, the navy often has very few boats available are to conduct effective coastline patrols.
The MV Pate, MV Hinga and MV Kiboko were bought from Sinnautic International of the Netherlands. Internal Security minister Katoo Ole Metito has ordered an inspection of all the boats which were procured from Sinnautical. Under fire from the Parliamentary Committee on Administration and Internal Security, which is questioning how Sinnautic received the supply contract ahead of competitors who made better offers at less cost, Metito has also order a parallel probe into the adjudication of the tender by the Kenyan Revenue Authority (KRA).
“It is possible that the wrong facilities may have been delivered to the police, but I shall investigate and get to the bottom of the issue. We will meet the officers in charge of the tendering of the said boats to ascertain how the boats were sourced and their effectiveness. I am reading mischief if indeed they were operational for that short period as alleged in the media reports, but I am yet to get any official briefing on the same,” Metito said.
However, the KRA has defended itself saying the adjudication of tender which was won by Sinnautic followed set procedures and was done in line with the country’s Exchequer and Audit Public Procurement Regulations of 2001. “We assure the public that KRA is committed to transparency in carrying out its legal mandate,” KRA public relations officer Kennedy Onyonyi said in a press statement.