Pubdate: Thu, 16 Dec 2004
Source: Daily Nation (Kenya)
Copyright: 2004 Nation Newspapers
Author: Patrick Mayoyo


The seizure of a cocaine haul worth more than Sh5 billion in Kenya
brings into question the policing of the country's coastline.

The coastline, dotted with scores of small islands, is said to be a
haven for smugglers, particularly, drug-traffickers.

Two major drug hauls worth billions of shillings were seized at the
coast in 1998 and 2000.

In a report, the United Nations has singled out the port of Mombasa as
a major drug-trafficking point on the continent.

According to the report issued by the International Narcotics Control
Board, the ports of Mombasa, Dar-es-Salaam, Maputo and Durban, are
most frequently used by drug traffickers.

Mombasa is suspected to be a major conduit for international drug
traffickers due to lax anti-narcotics laws and poor policing of the

The Lamu archipelago near the Somalia border, and other illegal ports
along the Kenyan coastline are said to be some of the most notorious
entry points for drugs dumped by ships in the high seas.

The drugs are picked up and taken ashore by dhows and later
transported to Mombasa and Nairobi before finding their way onto the
international market.

However, despite the Government's awareness of these activities, no
measures have been put in place to ensure the country's coastline does
not continue to be a theatre of contraband activities.

For many years, the Government has toyed with the idea of establishing
a Coast Guard for its waters, but this remains a pipe dream.

The coordinator of the Seafarers Assistance Programme, Mr Andrew
Mwangura, says the establishment of a Coast Guard is among
recommendations the Task Force on the Review of Maritime Laws of Kenya
has come up with.

"The establishment of a Coast Guard is the only solution to the
thriving arms smuggling, drug-trafficking and general contraband trade
along Kenya's coastline," he said.

Mr Mwangura said drug-trafficking along the country's coastline was
rampant at Ghala Island, Kinondo, Gazi, Bodo, Majoreni, Vanga, Lamu
Takaungu, Kipini, Ukonumbi, and at Mombasa's Old Port.

In 1999, the US Government conducted a course for officers from
different Government departments to intensify the war against
narcotics trade and general contraband activities, among other
security issues.

But even with such highly trained personnel, cases of illegal fishing
in Kenya's territorial waters, arms smuggling, trade in contraband and
drug-trafficking is rampant along the country's coastline.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Derek