The Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA) has begun constructing a Sh1.8 billion building that will house its headquarters and the Maritime Technology Cooperation Centre (MTCC) for Africa region.
Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia said construction of the 13 storey building would take 18 months to complete.
“The project will be financed by KMA, which is the industry regulator, and shift from a leased building owned by the Kenya Ports Authority,” he said Friday.
Mr Macharia said the parastatal would be able to conduct its activities efficiently.
“We expect that this autonomy will enable the authority to properly carry out its mandate as the industry regulator,” the CS said.
He spoke during the project’s ground breaking ceremony near Little Theatre Club in Mombasa.
The MTCC is one of the five centres the International Maritime Organization (IMO) will set up globally and has a budget of Sh1.1 billion funded by the European Union.
Two weeks ago the IMO selected Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) to host the centre.
Under the Global MTTC Network (GMN) project, JKUAT will host MTCC-Africa in collaboration with Kenya Ports Authority and Kenya Maritime Authority.
The selection of JKUAT followed a competitive international tendering process, IMO said.
Established in 2004 through a presidential order, KMA is mandated to set up and strengthen institutional capacities in the maritime sector.
KMA acting director general Cosmas Cherop said with immense growth being realized in the sector over the past decade, some operations had been constrained at the current premise.
“This growth has resulted to enlarged mandate for the authority and increased workforce to deliver on the country’s extensive maritime agenda.
“Construction of an ultramodern headquarters will make it possible to host KMA’s increased workforce, foreign consulates and the region’s maritime experts.
“This development also demonstrates our commitment towards achieving our vision of becoming leaders in maritime administration,” he said.
Also present during the ceremony were former KMA chairman Mwalimu Degore and Transport Principal Secretary Irungu Nyakera.
Construction of the headquarters comes at a time when the country is expanding its maritime economy, especially with massive investments in Mombasa port’s expansion and building of a second port in Lamu.
It is expected that the country will require workforce and expertise that the centre will seek to provide.