President Uhuru Kenyatta has challenged 350 newly hired seafarers to be good brand ambassadors of the Kenyan nation saying their conduct will determine the demand for Kenyan maritime professionals by international shipping lines.
“To the new recruits that we are commissioning today, let me remind you that you sail out as our ambassadors. How many more Kenyans are recruited in the future will, to a large extent, depend on the image of Kenya you project abroad,” the President said.
The Head of State spoke on Wednesday at the Kenya Maritime Academy in Mombasa County during the flag off ceremony of 350 young Kenyan seafarers recently recruited by Atlanta based Celebrity Cruises.
The President recalled with nostalgia the good old days when Kenya used to be the leading regional source market for seafarers, serving major shipping lines across the world.
“I remember the many Kenyans who used to come here with good money after serving abroad. We wish you the very best as you embark on your new career.
“We recall that in the early 70s we used to have more than 10,000 seafarers as a country, and these were men and women who actually breathed life not only to Mombasa but to many other towns in our country.
“But because of mismanagement of the sector this was reduced to almost nothing,” President Kenyatta said as he thanked Celebrity Cruises and other shipping for continuing to offer young Kenyan seafarers employment opportunities on their vessels.
“I want to begin, in particular, to thank the Mediterranean Shipping Company MSC. Because they came in as our very first partners and as General (Rtd) Mwathethe said, you took some of our young men and women, both of whom I had the pleasure of launching, who have proven to be very successful,” President Kenyatta said.
He thanked Kenya’s blue economy office led by General (Rtd) Samson Mwathethe and State House Deputy Chief of Staff responsible for policy and strategy Mrs Ruth Kagia for steering the restoration of the seafaring profession.
“I want to recognize the works that have been done by both the ministry in charge of maritime and a special vote of thanks to Retired General Samson Mwathethe and Madam Ruth Kagia who for the last five years have really been struggling to see how we can restore some of that lost glory,” the President said.
Earlier, President Kenyatta, who was on a day-long working tour of Mombasa County commissioned several infrastructural projects among them the new Ksh 4.5 billion Makupa Bridge, the offshore Kipevu Oil Terminal and the Liwatoni Fisheries Complex.
Speaking to wananchi at Makupa Bridge, President Kenyatta said the construction of Makupa Bridge in a record 17 months was a testimony of his successful 10-year tenure and rubbished his doubters as peddlers of falsehoods.
“Some leaders have been moving around the country saying after the handshake we achieved nothing. But this project is proof that we have done a lot. We have been able to do this because of the peace and stability we have experienced in the last few years, especially because of the handshake,” the President said.
He said the completion of Makupa Bridge and the opening up of the 1929 causeway had restored Mombasa’s enviable status as a true island.
Mombasa leaders led by Governor Ali Hassan Joho thanked the President for the projects successfully implemented by President Kenyatta’s administration, and assured of the county’s full backing of Azimio La Umoja’s presidential candidate Raila Odinga in Tuesday’s poll.
Cabinet Secretaries James Macharia (Infrastructure) and Monica Juma (Energy) accompanied the President on the day-long working tour.