The National, Thursday 6th September, 2012
By SHIRLYN BELDEN
THE government should not abandon the National Maritime Safety Authority (NMSA) but improve its operations by ensuring it is appropriately funded and staffed, a Commission of Inquiry says.
The report by a Commission of Inquiry into the capsizing of the passenger ferry, mv Rabaul Queen, was tabled in parliament yesterday by Deputy Prime Minister Leo Dion.
The commission estimated that between 142 and 162 people died in the tragedy which occurred in heavy weather off Finschhafen, Morobe, on Feb 2 as the vessel headed for Lae.
During the course of the inquiry, the authority was unable to carry out its functions effectively because it was lacking in several key areas.
Dion told parliament that the commission’s report had recommended that the government commission a thorough independent review of the NMSA and provide funding to enable it to fulfil its duties.
The government was also asked to invest in the necessary country-wide communications infrastructure to ensure good communication with ships and establish rescue offices with radio communications on a 24/7 basis.
Dion said the NMSA was responsible for keeping the seas safe.
“The commission considers that had the NMSA properly conducted its duties, the disaster could not have occurred,” he said.
The commission, headed by Australian judge Warwick Andrew produced 34 proposals to improve maritime safety in the country.
Dion said the government “accepted the proposals and had taken steps to implement them”.
The proposals include :
lA review of the Merchant Shipping Act 1975 to ensure consistency with the international standards and remove provisions which are unclear and ambiguous;
lEstablishing requirements for life jackets for passengers on board including children and infants;
lIncrease the number of lifeboats to 125% of the maximum number of passengers;
lIncrease search and rescue facilities; and
lRevalidation of PNG maritime certificates of competency at regular intervals.