By Philip Mwakio
Mombasa, Kenya: She is at the controls of a super tugboat at
Berth 11 at the Mombasa port.
Elizabeth Marami, 25, is the envy of many and set to enter the history books as Kenya’s first woman marine pilot after successfully completing five years of intensive training at the prestigious marine training college in Alexandria, Egypt.
In her work uniform — dark blue trousers, light blue shirt and shiny black shoes — Ms Marami, now ranked as a Second Officer, looks the part.
“I am determined to be one of the best mariners around. I love seafaring and have never looked back since I got enlisted as a marine pilot cadet,” said Marami as she approaches Mbaraki Wharf where the grey Indian naval ship christened INS Jamuna is docked.
She steers the tugboat with precision and in no time, it is cruising slowly out of the Kilindini waterfront. The boat glides slowly, hitting small waves on the way. With Marami on the bridge are other crew members.
A KPA pilot on board the Indian vessel gives instructions over a two-way VHF radio on how to unberth as another tugboat, Simba III, joins in the process.
It involves lashing the side of the ship and towing it slowly to mid-stream before releasing the tow line and letting the ship sail away.
Now in her fourth and final month on board as she acquaints herself with tugboat operations, Marami’s next phase of on-the-job training before her final evaluation to be awarded a licence will see her work with a qualified pilot to board vessels leaving or entering port.
“I am on a tugboat to help myself understand better the relationship between a tug master and a pilot as the two are very instrumental in ship movement in and out of the port,” she explains.
She is eager to start the next phase of her practical training that will see her learn the nitty gritty of channels and routes that ships use to enter and leave the harbour.
The daughter of Mombasa paediatrician Aggrey Marami and school principal Veronica Marami, Elizabeth is described by colleagues at work as a go-getter, strong willed, confident and neat.