Boat owners – don’t forget safety precautions!
As the rainy season begins, it is of importance to call on the attention of the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources to put measures in place to enhance the safety of passengers travelling by sea before other sea disasters plague us.
It could be recalled that historically this nation has suffered many terrible sea accidents, one consuming the lives of over one hundred and fifty Sierra Leoneans travelling from neighboring Guinea with wares to market in Freetown, as the rush was about a particular candy or sweet which was popular and consumed by all and sundry and which after the disaster, was dubbed as the “Killer Sweet”.
As there have been so many other sea disasters in the past years, it is heartrending to observe that passengers are not mindful of putting their own lives in jeopardy by travelling with those (Pampa) boats with no safety mechanism in place all in the name of eking a living.
We are also aware of the fact that, after years of numerous accidents at sea the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources in collaboration with the Naval wing of the Military, The Sierra Leone Maritime Administration, and the Boat-Owners Association, came together in a bid to salvage this seeming menace at sea, by enacting rules and regulations for Passenger-Boats plying the sea routes: these were, Safety-Jackets for each person onboard including the crew, Communication sets for SOS calls, Capacity biding, and also the introduction of Passenger-Lists, and joint Police and Naval posts at every wharf to ensure that these safety precautions are adhered to by boat owners and passengers. However, at the end of the day we notice that none of these rules and regulations are being adhered to by the boat owners nor the passengers.
It’s very unfortunate to observe that our society is one in which poverty has dominated the minds of the people and corruption seems to have taken over even when it comes to people in positions of trust and law enforcement agencies, that is why nothing is being done by authorities to arrest this situation that is a deliberate neglect by the enforcement officers on the ground as they could be seen pretending to be doing something while doing nothing.
Investigations reveal that a lot is happening behind closed doors as allegations of bribery, exploitation and corrupt acts are taking place by both the Police and Military personnel at the detriment of innocent Sierra Leonean lives, for personal financial gains.
At this juncture we are asking Government to monitor the activities of these boats plying the sea now or we will definitely be prone to more sea accidents this year.
As the saying goes, a stitch in time saves nine.
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