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GPA tasked to maintain passenger safety, others

Nov 23, 2010, 11:36 AM | Article By: Lamin Drammeh

The permanent secretary at the Ministry of Works, Construction and Infrastructure, Yahya Sireh Jallow, has tasked the Gambia Ports Authority and the Gambia Maritime Administration to maintain zero tolerance and no-compromise for safety and security of passengers, crew and cargo vessels using Gambian waterways.

Jallow made this call in a statement read on his behalf by the deputy permanent secretary for Technical at the Ministry of Works, Demba S. Bah, at the opening of a five-day seminar on Flag State Implementation workshop held at the GPA training room yesterday.

Organised by the Gambia Maritime Administration, the forum brought together participants from the Gambia Ports Authority, Attorney General's Chambers and Ministry of Justice, Department of Fisheries, and shipping companies, among others.

He underscored the socio-economic importance of the Port of Banjul, including the ferry services, in the socio-economic development of The Gambia.

According to Mr. Jallow, though ferries are non conventional vessels, it goes without saying that their socio-economic benefits must match their seaworthiness.

"I am, therefore, pleased that GMA has commenced the inspection of the ferries to complement the internal inspections regularly conducted by the GPA. Though the core activity of the GPA is to generate revenue, whereas GMA's is regulatory, the two institutions, as mentioned earlier, have a common objective, and that is to ensure safety and security on Gambian waterways free from marine pollution," Jallow added.

This common objective, he says, calls for a cooperative approach between the two institutions to prevent disasters like the Joola, a sad incident that took place in Senegalese waters off the coast of Gambia about a decade ago.

Mr. Jallow described Flag State Implementation as one of the most important duties and responsibilities performed by a maritime administration on behalf of a state, noting that its importance is reflected in the fact that most major IMO Convention Codes, came into play during FLAG State Implementation.

"Therefore, "if the Gambia wants to register and certify vessels that meet international safety standards; if the Gambia wants vessels using her waterways to be manned by qualified and competent crew; if the Gambia wants the welfare of her seafarers to be given priority attention, and if the Gambia wants her seaport to be recognized and respected internationally, the country must ensure that Flag State Implementation is carried out effectively and efficiently", he said.