Reuben Mwambingu @reubenmwambingu
President Uhuru Kenya yesterday flagged off the Kenya Coast Guard Service (KCGS) to safeguard the Kenyan waters. The president said at some point he was forced to walk the journey of starting the service without involving Cabinet secretaries as he feared they could complicate it by inflating the budget.
Speaking during the launch at Liwatoni in Mombasa, Uhuru said he chose to keep the journey a secret to ward off political rhetoric which could have stagnated the project.
He explained how at times he would survey the Liwatoni fish landing site which was under a fish processing plant owned by a Mombasa businessman at night, alongside Chief of Defence Forces Gene Samson Mwathethe as they negotiated repossession of the public land.
“This is a journey that I have personally waited for a long time. I wanted to see how we could turn around the blue economy into a beneficial sector to our GDP and create wealth for the country. And when we started the journey, we were told it would be a difficult process.
I told Mwathethe to help me in this journey because I knew if I approach the CSs they will start telling us how much billions of shillings will be required,” said Uhuru, adding that: “So we started the journey undercover because we were afraid if we speak, politics could infiltrate and spoil everything.”
He said surveys had revealed that majority of the fish landing sites have been encroached on and grabbed by private developers. Consequently, he directed the National Land Commission and the Department of Fisheries to ensure all fish landing sites at the Coast, Lake Victoria and other areas across the country are recovered and secured by the end of the first quarter of 2019.
During the launch, the president officially commissioned Mv Doria, the vessel to be used by the KCGS to patrol the Kenyan waters declaring that “coast guards will arrest and prosecute anyone within our waters who does not comply with our legislation.” With KCGS, he said Kenyan waters will no longer be used in drug trafficking, human trafficking and illegal fishing.