By Izuchukwu Ozoemena
To cut down the number of substandard ships in Africa in the next 10 years, Cote d’Ivoire has advocated continuous training for ship inspectors. This will equip them with evolving dynamics in inspection of vessels and enable them to match the antics of unscrupulous ship operators.
Mr. Toure Umar, Chief Inspector and Chief Port State Control Officer, Cote d’Ivoire Ministry of Transportation, disclosed this at the sidelines of the Abuja MoU 9th Port State Control Committee Meeting which recently took place in Accra, Ghana.
Umar who represented the Ivorien Transportation Minister stated that well trained inspectors have the capacity to detect all the tricks owners of substandard vessels play to evade detection at the sea port. He said it will be to the advantage of the African continent to ensure that ships that call at her ports maintain internationally-acclaimed standards of safety of the environment, especially in the area of pollution control as well as safety of crew and cargo.
He recalled that the terrorist attacks of September 9, 2001on the twin towers of the World Trade Centre necessitated the adoption of the International Ship and Port Security (ISPS) code and compliance to safeguard seaports against similar terror attacks.
He explained that if such a disaster could be done in the air, it would be easier to commit same in the seaports. That is the reason, among others, only trained inspectors should conduct strict checks on vessels that visit African ports, he stated.
Cote d’Ivoire, he said, has two ports. “As a port state, we receive many ships coming from all over the world. Among these ships, there are many of them that are substandard. We make the inspection and ensure strict adherence with safety and environmental standards like we are doing in the Abuja MoU. I think it is the only way to push people to comply with the rules”.
There are a lot of conventions instituted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to make life better and ensure safety of life at sea. All ship owners, countries and flag states have the obligation to maintain their ships and keep them in good condition. “But unfortunately”, Umar revealed, “some of these ship owners do not do their job as perfectly as expected. All these ships which call at all ports in the world often times do not abide by standards dictated by regulations. The standard is according to the IMO regulations and all ships not living up to the standards are called substandard vessels.”
On whether Abuja MoU members suffer any difficulty arising from language differences, Umar explained that among the Anglophone and Francophone countries, language differences have never been a hindrance in their operations and even in meetings. “The international language for shipping is English. Even if you speak French, Spanish or any other, the maritime language is English.”