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East Sepik takes step forward in sea safety

The East Sepik Provincial Administration has taken steps to work closely with Police to apprehend offenders who continue to breach the provisions of the Small Craft Act (SCA) within the province. In particular the overloading of dinghies which has resulted in a number of fatalities recently.

This was the assurance made by the Provincial Administrator, Richard Kombo to the National Maritime Safety Authority (NMSA) General Manager/CEO, Paul Unas during his recent visit to the province.

Mr Kombo tasked his officers to implement the actual registration and licensing of the small crafts by May of this year.

Mr Unas also assured the Provincial Administration that similar to other provinces who have received assistance from NMSA, the Authority is ready to assist provinces that establish their Small Craft Registration Board and other appointments in place to implement the Act.

East Sepik Province is amongst the 10 Maritime Provinces that have commenced implementing the SCA, having established Small Craft Boards with several now actively engaged in the registration and enforcement of the Act. Since the appointment of the Board in 2015, the members were not gazetted and swore in as board members. Therefore, the Provincial Small Craft Board was not functional. However, Mr Kombo has tasked his officers to implement the actual registration and licensing of the small crafts by May 2018.

NMSA, with funding from Australian Aid, through the Transport Sector Support Program, has provided in 14 provinces, training, administrative support, office refurbishment, IT, safety equipment, and community awareness activities. Since the Act was gazetted over 600 small craft officials and police have been trained in administering and enforcing the Act. Over 20 community awareness sessions have been conducted and 10,000 small craft safety brochures, posters and booklets distributed.  Registration and enforcement activities are underway in all three maritime regions.  Last year, boat operator in Alotau, Milne Bay Province has been convicted of a serious Small Craft Act offence and was imprisoned for 5 years.

Wewak town Police Station Commander, Inspector James Baugen acknowledged the introduction of the SCA 2011 to regulate the small boats in the country and directed his officers to continue to liaise and work with the office of the Provincial Small Craft Registry to conduct awareness in the province about the Act.

Mr Unas acknowledged the collaboration by the Provincial Administration and the local Police and encouraged them to maintain this working relationship in order to effectively implement and enforce the Act throughout the coastal areas of the province.

He suggested an initiative to trial two coastal communities in East Sepik to utilise their Ward Development Committees to be the front line officers at the ward level to assist in the implementation of the SCA 2011.

“The implementation of the Small Craft Act is correctly a provincial responsibility. Therefore, Maritime Provinces must take necessary and practical steps to implement this Act and promote the sea safety first cultural in their respective provinces,” he said.

Mr Unas reiterated that failure to comply with sea safety measures can result in severe penalties under the Small Craft Act.

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