The Government is in the final stages of drafting regulations on merchant shipping (prevention of oil pollution) for efficient implementation of ratified conventions and national plans for responding to pollution incidents.
Speaking at a handover ceremony for marine oil pollution cleaning equipment donated by the bilateral Indian Ocean Commission to Tanzania in Dar es Salaam yesterday, the Transport Ministry’s Deputy Permanent Secretary John Mngodo said that the donation marked a milestone in national plans for oil pollution preparedness, response and cooperation.
“Although Tanzania has never experienced a major oil spill pollution incident, we are quite mindful of the fact that there are risks of pollution in our controlled waters. Many ships pass through our coastal waters or come in to our ports laden with oil, so such pollution could arise out of ship collisions, groundings or out of criminal acts including piracy,” he said.
“The equipment will assist us to gain efficiency on responding to oil spill pollution incidents. The draft National Marine Oil Spill Response Contingency Plan is in the final stage of validation and approval. Following this validation, stakeholders will be asked to meet and discuss the plan for purposes of agreeing on a framework for its implementation, he elaborated.
The government is embarking on necessary steps to protect the marine environment through the preparation of national response contingency plans and fostering cooperation with other countries in the region, he declared.
Mngodo also disclosed that the country has ratified the major international convention for protection of marine environment including the international convention for prevention of pollution from ships (MARPOL).
Receiving the sea surface cleaning equipment was an initial step towards building a comprehensive stock of oil pollution equipment in line with the level of oil pollution risk in Tanzanian controlled waters. The target is to maintain and operate equipment sufficient to respond to a major oil pollution incident.
However, Ahmad Kilima, Acting Director General of the Surface and Marine Transport Regulatory Authority (SUMATRA) said that they received pollution equipment while matters relating to payment of customs dues were being considered by the government. There are specific accords on the matter under the Global Environmental Facility, Western Indian Ocean Marine Highway Development, as well as rules governing the coastal and marine contamination prevention project (GEF-WIOMHP).
Verification of the pollution equipment was conducted on Thursday and all necessary equipment were in place, including booms, motor driven pump, self erecting storage, floating tanks, trailer, steel anchors and inflatable buoys.
“The CIF value of the equipment is put at pounds sterling 78million, equal to approximately Tsh192 billion,” he elaborated.
The SUMATRA chieftain said that the country will greatly benefit from the acquired oil pollution cleaning equipment in terms of enhancing oil spill response capabilities. “In receiving this equipment, it is our hope that other avenues will be used to acquire more equipment to be placed at different p-port locations, especially Mtwara and Tanga, he added.