Following a marine safety workshop, stakeholders in the industry have called for improved safety regulations to prevent maritime accidents from taking place. At a recent Maritime Safety Workshop in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, participants discussed some of the weaknesses facing the industry and how to improve upon them. A lack of advanced navigation charts was highlighted, with contributors citing that the majority of vessel operators relied on experience alone when navigating waters, placing several lives at risk, as well as leaving room for potential property damage.
The Chairman of the Marine Classification Society of Tanzania, Engineer Thomas Mayagila, said lack of navigation charts increased the chances of marine accidents.
“Use of navigation chart is a requirement that cannot be overstated. Operation of marine vessels must be precise and professionally carried out far from guesswork no matter how experienced a ship captain might be,” explained Mayagila.
Mayagila referenced the MV Bukoba accident in May 1996 that claimed nearly 1,000 lives. Another participant, Marine Transport Consultant and Lecturer Jovin Mwemezi, said that the best way to improve safety in marine transportation is through joined efforts among stakeholders.
“Safety regulations in maritime administration should also focus on proper ways of dealing with the aftermath of marine accidents, that includes rescue operations and good care of survivors,” said Mwemezi.
Hussein Said, from SS Bakhressa Group of Companies, added that the training of vessel captains should also be a priority. He explained that some captains who are currently operating marine passenger vessels have only been trained in the operation of marine tankers. Some captains have not received any formal training at all.
“In case of marine accidents, some of them do not know what to do to help ill-fated passengers,” explained Said. “The training curriculum must include that part as well for the improvement of marine safety.”
Cooperation between the Surface and Marine Transportation Authority (SUMATRA) and the Zanzibar Maritime Authority has been renewed, which will help monitor safety operations for vessel operators in order to minimize the chance of maritime accidents.
Tanzania has had its share of maritime disasters over the past few years. Some of the disasters that have called stakeholders to action include the sinking of the MV Skagit in June, which resulted in the deaths of 144 people, the MV Spice Islander in September of last year, which resulted in the deaths of 203 people and the MV Bukoba tragedy in Lake Victoria in May 1996, which led to 1,000 passenger deaths.
The maritime accidents were caused by negligence, overcrowding and disregard for the safety of those onboard by management in allowing the ships to sail during unfavorable weather conditions.
The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) imposed safety regulations for inland waterways vessels and non-convention crafts in Africa in 2001, but accidents are still taking place. Victims involved in tragedies at sea or in port may be eligible to receive compensation. If you or someone you know was injured or killed in a cargo ship incident, fishing vessel capsizing or any other accident, turn to a maritime lawyer to discuss your options and file a case.