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‘Search and rescue crucial to SLMA operations’

- says VP Foh

July 9, 2015 By Ibrahim Tarawallie

While commissioning five maritime rescue boats at the Queen Elizabeth II Quay on Tuesday (July 7), Vice President Victor Bockarie Foh stressed that search and rescue are very crucial in the operations of the Sierra Leone Maritime Administration.

The vice president said in the event of a distress call at sea, the administration should be able to respond promptly and efficiently.

“As we all know, the rains are here already and it is usually during this period that we have increased incidences at sea. We usually witness an increase of sea accidents of our local boats plying the sea routes, these accidents occur with high human and economic costs to us as a nation,” he noted.

Mr. Foh opined that while it is the case that with the establishment and prompt response of the Sierra Leone Maritime there has been a decrease in the occurrence of sea accidents, those concern should not relent in ensuring that the administration is fully capacitated to perform the functions for which it was established, which include safety of local boats, crew and passengers.

He said as part of the strategy for a rapid response by the Sierra Leone Maritime Administration, the boats would complement the efforts of the Maritime sub-Rescue Centre at Murray Town, and that in an additional safety measure, the SLMA now has fast patrol crafts to monitor and “go after boats” that flout safety regulations, such as overloading of boats, non-use of lifejackets, unlicensed and unworthy boats, among others.

“Today, we are providing additional capacity to the SLMA by the acquisition of specialized boats,” stated Ambassador Foh. “We can only hope that these boats will improve on the efficiency and effectiveness of the Sierra Leone Maritime Administration in the performance of its functions.”

With this “very useful additional function”, Mr. Foh encouraged the SLMA to utilize the expertise and services of the National Fire Service to provide adequate fire-fighting training for users of the boats.

Also speaking, Minister of Transport and Aviation, Leonard Balogun Koroma, said his ministry was proud because the need for maritime patrol boats was long overdue, noting that before now, the SLMA can only boast of one rescue boat which did not meet international standards for aviation or shipping.

“Before now, the SLMA has been using local volunteers and locally made boats fitted with fire engines for search and rescue operations with no fire fighting capacity,” he said. “All of these are now in the past. The commissioning of the five naval patrol boats would be of immense value to our national maritime needs.”

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