Accra , Aug. 31, GNA - A five-day national training course to provide surveyors and inspectors of non-conventional ships and fishing vessels with the necessary tools to implement the Inland Waterways Regulation Bill opened in Accra on Monday.
The regulation, being finalized by the Attorney-General's Department for presentation to Parliament, would provide a framework for marine surveyors to effectively inspect and enforce the safety of non-conventional vessels, including water crafts.
Non-Convention Vessels refer to those vessels which are not covered by the International Convention for Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) 1974.
Participants from the Ghana Association of Marine Surveyors; the National Fisheries Association; Ghana Industrial Trawlers Association; the National Inshore Fisheries Association; the Ghana Tuna Association; the Volta Lake Transport Company; the Regional Maritime University and the Ghana Maritime authority are attending the course organized by the Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA) in collaboration with International Maritime Organization (IMO).
Mr Mike Hammah, Minister of Transport, in a speech read for him, said under the new law, drawings and plans of new crafts and vessels would have to be approved before construction could take place.
The Minister said the regulatory framework of the International Maritime Organization as enshrined in the SOLAS did not generally apply to island water and non-convention fishing vessels, and commended the IMO for the support to train personnel to set safety and security standards for fishermen and women.
He said the training was particularly relevant to Africa in view of the type of vessels operating on the continent, including pleasure craft and island water craft.
"These crafts have a number of characteristics which make them unique. They are many, most of them are locally constructed and their design and construction may not meet rules and standards of the recognized classification societies," he added.
Mr Hammah said the non-convention ships provided job and profession to a huge number of coastal and inland water communities across the length and breadth of the country.
"The survey and inspection of such vessels call for a certain level of expertise, a crucial issue which until recently had been taken for granted."
Mr Issaka P. Azuma, Director-General of the GMA, said although the GMA had responsibility to ensure the safety of both conventional and non-conventional vessels operating in the country, unfortunately, over the years both at the national and international levels, more emphasis seemed to have been focused on the safety of conventional vessels because there were a number of international conventions setting standards for their operations.
He expressed gratitude to the IMO and Ghana navy for their collaboration with the GMA to reduce the spate of accidents on the Volta Lake , and urged the participants to be actively involved in discussions to equip themselves with the requisite knowledge and skills to ensure the safety of navigation and seaworthiness of vessels operating in the country's waters.