The National –Wednesday, January 5, 2011
By STEPHANIE ELIZAH
LACK of awareness on maritime safety for small crafts is a major concern for maritime provinces including Madang as this could prove fatal for passengers and craft owners, warned a former captain and small craft trainer Pascal Yali.
Yali said from experience, Madang has a high rate of small craft incidents including crafts getting lost at high seas, near-misses with large ships and loss of lives during bad weather.
“There is need for awareness on safety procedures and safety equipment that small crafts should have, like life jackets which many small crafts do not have on board.
“There is also no law to enforce safety requirements for small crafts,” Yali said.
He said as a result, many skippers of small crafts were not prepared for accidents because they did not know what safety equipment to have on board and were not well trained to handle different emergencies at sea.
Yali also cautioned all small crafts to take precaution when out at sea as the current seasonal north-westerly wind was known for causing fatal boat accidents.
“At this time of the year, we expect many loss of lives due to boat accidents. Skippers must be prepared for any danger when they are travelling with passengers.
“Don’t overload the boats with people or goods; and have on board basic survival kits like flashlight, bottled water and floats,” Yali advised.
He said that, most importantly, skippers of small crafts should not be intoxicated while on duty as many accidents have been the result of skippers being under the influence of alcohol while ferrying passengers.
“Small crafts are crafts that are less than 10m long and do not come under the merchant shipping act.
This would include banana boats which are the main cause of accidents in our 14 maritime provinces,” Yali said.