Kenya has moved to establish a special force to man its maritime territories, after President Uhuru Kenyatta this week signed the Coast Guard Bill into law.
“The Coast Guard Act 2018 establishes the Kenya Coast Guard Service, which will be responsible for enforcing maritime security and safety, pollution control and sanitation measures and prosecuting offenders,” President Kenyatta said after signing the Bill.
The coast guard brings into focus maritime disputes with neighbouring countries, the foremost being Migingo Island in Lake Victoria, over which Kenya and Uganda have engaged in bitter wrangles, some violent.
The force will also guard the country’s territorial waters against illegal fishing. Kenya loses up to $100 million annually from illegal fishing.
The Coast Guard Service will comprise personnel drawn from the police, the army and intelligence services and civilian professionals seconded from the Public Service Commission.
Regular police who have been offering maritime security services will be deployed to the ports in Mombasa, Lamu and Kisumu.
“The service shall have powers to stop, enter and board search and inspect any structure, place, vessel or aircraft,” notes the law.
The Coast Guard Service will be led by a director-general who will report to a council.