Wednesday, August 29, 2012
TANZANIA MARITIME SECTOR CALLS FOR INDEPENDENT BODY
By Finnigan Wa Simbeye, 28 August 2012
THERE is urgent need to establish an independent Tanzania Maritime Authority (TMA) with qualified personnel in marine safety and management to curb growing number of accidents especially on Indian Ocean waters.
Tanzania Shipping Agents Association (TASAA) Chairman, Emmanuel Mallya and Inland Container Depot Association of Tanzania (CDAT) Chairman, Ashraf Khan said so far there has been lapses in marine safety as undertaken by the Surface and Marine Transport Regulatory Authority (Sumatra).
"We are a maritime country which needs a powerful maritime authority to safeguard safety of services which is lacking at present," said Mr Mallya who decried negative image which the country's maritime industry is putting on following three boat accidents on Indian Ocean which left over 300 people dead in the past year.
Mallya argued that Sumatra's capacity to regulate the industry and guarantee safety is overstretched by lack of qualified personnel and necessary resources to ensure that boats and ships plying the Indian Ocean and lakes Nyassa, Tanganyika and Victoria meet minimum international standards.
CDAT's Khan was more specific as his company, Bakhressa Group also incorporates Azam Marine Company Limited which has speed boats plying between Zanzibar and Dar es Salaam ports. "Poor maritime safety is affecting private companies more than anybody else because we are losing business as people have no confidence in our services," said Mr Khan whose company also depends on foreign tourists travelling between the mainland and the islands.
Khan said there is urgent need to establish the authority which shall take charge of marine safety and regulation on both sides of the union with qualified personnel especially in the field of safety as numerous accidents indicate that there are serious problems relating to the area at Sumatra.
"We cannot continue like this, something urgent ought to be done to reverse the trend," Khan argued. According to International Maritime Organization (IMO), Tanzania is now heading towards countries with the worst maritime safety in the world rivaling Philippines and Senegal with MV Bukoba being the worst accident ever to occur on the country's waters in 1996.
MV Bukoba which capsized near Mwanza Port is estimated to have left over 800 people dead. This year alone, MV Spice Islander killed more than 200 while MV Skagit drowned over 140 people while plying Dar es Salaam to Zanzibar waters. Philippines has the world's worst maritime safety record with thousands of lives lost in the past two decades.
But Sumatra's Public Relations Manager, David Mziray distanced the authority's connections to the two Zanzibar registered ferry boat disasters arguing that regulation on the mainland is still strong. "We have some problems but we are doing our best which is why maritime accidents on the mainland are low," he argued.