Ensuring safety of ships entering Omani ports
Safety of ships entering the ports of the Arabian Gulf is essential for the region’s position in trade and commerce,
as well as for Oman’s interests, specialists in the field of marine security said.
The topic was discussed following a series of meetings of the Riyadh Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Port State Control that started on Monday between officials of the Ministry of Transport and Communications and marine specialists.
On the occasion of the opening ceremony, Said Hamdoon Saif Al Harthi, undersecretary of Ports and Maritime Affairs at the Ministry of Transport and Communications, stressed the need for a secure and safe passage of ships entering Omani ports, as well as other ports in the Arabian Gulf.
“When you see how congested the ports in the Gulf are, preserving the environment, safety and security of passage of ships is essential,” he said.
He further noted the importance of the Gulf’s waters as they are “the lifeblood of the world economy.”
Abdulwahab Al Diwani, director of Marine Transport Affairs at the UAE-based National Transport Authority, told the Times of Oman (TOO) that improving the standards of ships entering the regional ports is a shared responsibility of port authorities and shipping firms.
“Since they have cargo for us, we need them, but they also need us. Our role is to provide them with good berthing facilities; their role is to improve their standards of shipping. We aim to eliminate the sub-standard ships among them,” he stated.
Al Diwani said the examples of such cases are the inadequate treatment of staff, equipment harming the environment and stowaways. “We want to see that the ships that are coming to our ports are clean and safe,” he added.
Richard Schiferli, secretary general of the Paris MoU on Port State Control, the equivalent of the Riyadh MoU in Europe, told TOO that vessels should not risk a maritime disaster, such as that experienced in Europe. He added that this was especially vital in the Arabian Gulf, where a lot of oil tankers passed by.
“Ships should be safe, as the Gulf coasts are at risk of environmental damage due to oil leaks,” he said.
Rashid Al Kiuni, chairman of Riyadh MoU said the MoU was established in 2004 to encourage cooperation between member states to ensure that foreign ships comply with international safety standards. In his speech, he stressed the success of training staff.
“The MoU plays an important and critical role in ensuring safety, as well as the well-being of the environment. There has been a tangible improvement in safety control of vessels since the MoU was established,” he said.
Al Kiuni added that staff inspecting the ships have “gained great knowledge” since the MoU was signed.
Schiferli of the Paris MoU acknowledged that training staff in the Gulf is essential for improving the level of inspection and at par with the latest global regulations.
“The shipping industry is always under pressure. There are still companies that neglect the maintenance of their ships and treatment of their staff,” he said.
The technical discussions during the next two days will result in 12 working papers, according to Mohammed Shaban Al Zadjali, director of the MoU’s Secretariat and Information Centre.
Source: Times of Oman