Take maritime safety seriously

Editorial

THE number of lives lost at sea will increase because of negligence by small boat owners, operators and passengers.
Time and time again, authorities have been calling on boat owners, operators and passengers in maritime provinces to exercise responsibility and comply with sea safety measures.
One does not need an encyclopedia to consult when it comes to exercising some form of responsibility and comply with sea safety measures including not travelling in bad weather, not overloading, carrying extra fuel, life jackets and some form of communication device.
We have people travelling in overloaded dinghies loaded with building materials, food items, bags or betel nut and there is no care by boat operators to adjust so they comply with safety regulations.
Boat operators should know their load limit which is supposed to be a monitoring mechanism used for load capacity.
It seems many want to make quick money and are ignorant of this limit.
The load limit should be enforced by local authorities to ensure safety for operators and passengers.
Most times, people along the coast don’t take heed of weather warnings and venture out during windy conditions thinking they are seafarers and know how to sail through it all.
It is those who live along the coast that want to try their skills against Mother Nature and sometimes end up as statistics.
For some, years of practice and experience in sea travel puts them in good stead as it is the only means of travelling from one point to another.
They have watched their grandfathers and village elders do it so many times that it becomes a necessary means of survival.
We should warn them that banana boats are no fun at all when the wind picks up, and the wind can pick up with little warning.
People die reasonably frequently in open-sea banana-boat crossings and you will need to exercise common sense before boarding one.
Don’t contemplate a trip in rough weather or if the boat is dangerously overloaded.
Remember that these boats usually do not carry life jackets or any kind of safety equipment.
The call adhering to weather conditions follows the recent boating incident in Manus where a father, his son and nephew did not return to their village after they went diving for sea cucumber.
They are reported to have been found in West Sepik.
The Government knows how much it costs to conduct searches and rescue operations when people encounter mishaps at sea and that is why the National Maritime Safety Authority (NMSA) has been calling on small boat owners and operations to practise sea safety especially during windy periods.
They can only do so much, the final call on venturing out to seas in any day rests entirely on the boat owners and operators.
One cause of why dinghies capsize out at sea is when a bigger engine is mounted.
Dinghies should be in good condition to operate and most dinghies capsized because of overloading or technical problems.
Rules and regulations have been passed and ready to be implemented.
It is just a matter of enforcing it.
There just has been too many unnecessary loss of lives at sea.
It needs to be stopped.

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