CAG report highlights SUMATRA’s weaknesses

CAG, Professor Mussa Assad


SURVEYS and inspections of vessels are very important in ensuring safety in maritime transportation if they are well managed. In light of that, the Surface and Marine Transport Regulatory Authority (SUMATRA) carries such mandate. However, in his performance audit report on the management of surveys and inspection of vessels in maritime transportation, the Controller and Auditor General (CAG), Prof. Mussa Assad, has noted ineffective measures, ultimately SUMATRA targets of reducing accidents were not met since marine accidents were often occurring. This contributed to risk of making maritime transportation in Tanzania mainland unsafe. Our Staff Writer FAUSTINE KAPAMA reports…

SAFETY management in maritime transportation is important and if well managed can save peoples’ lives, reduce injuries and loss of properties by reducing the number of accidents.

In this regard, the Surface and Marine Transport Regulatory Authority (SUMATRA) which is under the Ministry of Works, Transport and Communication has been mandated to oversee implementation of safety management in maritime transportation through surveys and inspections of vessels.

Survey of vessel is a detailed examination, done by Surveyor for the purpose of determining its current condition and seaworthiness and if the vessel is safe to use in conditions for which it was designed, and what maintenance and repairs are required or likely to be required in the future. Likewise, inspection of vessel refers to examination of the vessel for the purpose of enhancing compliance with safety standards.

Both survey and inspection of vessels if properly conducted can help to reduce non-compliance of safety standards. Ultimately it can reduce the number of accidents and incidences in maritime transportation.

Based on risk of occurrence of maritime accidents and incidents caused by inadequate surveys and inspections of vessels, the CAG, Prof. Mussa Assad decided to carry out performance audit on how SUMATRA and Ministry effectively manage surveys and inspections of vessels. Such audit was motivated by a number of factors, including a report on “Identifying Transport Potential Development Areas” by Bureau for Industrial Cooperation (2011).

The report submitted to SUMATRA, shows poor and unsafe boats frequently used to transport passengers within the lakes which posed a high risk to life and properties of passengers. Similarly, according to a report of SUMATRA explaining “why marine accidents will always increase,” marine accident will always increase due to the fact that, vessels are overloaded with passengers and cargo and most of the vessels do not have the required standards.

Furthermore, SUMATRA reports on marine accidents and incidents that occurred in Tanzania within eight years showed the number of fatalities is decreasing. However there was a risk of occurrence of marine accidents and incidents due to inadequate surveys and inspections of vessels.

Furthermore, report on Trends, Causal Analysis, and Recommendations from 14 Years of Ferry Accidents (2016) by Worldwide Ferry Safety Association showed that 232 ferry accidents occurred over the 14-year period from 2000 to 2014.

There was also a report from the media that that marine industry operators have to create the culture of inspecting speed boats, particularly those plying between Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar in order to reduce the number of accidents. Most of these accidents are a result of lack of inspections supposed to be carried out by SUMATRA. By a conservative tally based on news reports, 21,574 lives were lost, an average of 130 deaths per incident and 1,541 deaths per year.

The accidents reported occurred in 43 different countries around the world, with three countries, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and the Philippines, responsible for almost 50 percent of all accidents.

Even more striking, the five countries of Bangladesh, Tanzania, Indonesia, Senegal, and the Philippines were responsible for almost twothirds of all fatalities in the 14-year period.According to the report, Tanzania had 15 percent of proportion of ferry fatalities in the 14 year period (World Bank 2015).

It was such point in time when the CAG decided to conduct his audit to, among others, determine whether SUMATRA sets adequate plans for surveys and inspections of vessels and assess whether SUMATRA adequately implements plans for surveys and inspections of vessels.

The CAG was also to assess the extent to which SUMATRA enforces compliance with safety standards through surveys and inspections of vessels and the extent to which the Ministry of Works, Transport and Communication conducts monitoring and evaluation on issues of safety in maritime transportation.

His audit focused on issues such as planning, implementation of plans, enforcement of safety standards as well as monitoring and evaluation of surveys and inspections of vessels. Three regions of Dar-es-Salaam, Mwanza and Tanga were covered.

Priority was given to these regions as they have a lot of maritime transportation activities and tremendous survey and inspection activities.

The audit covered a period of five financial years from 2011/2012 to 2015/2016 because during this period, SUMATRA introduced second corporate strategic plan (2013/14-2017/18) which aimed at reducing accidents and incidents to zero for ships and by 50 percent each year of small ships. However during this period there were more marine accidents and incidents occurred than expected.

The audit also covered issues such as planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of surveys and inspections activities. In his findings, the CAG has noted absence of Data Base to Accommodate Registration of Small Ships, inadequate survey and inspection plans, implementation of surveys and inspections of vessels were not assessed and surveys and inspections were not risk based.

He noted inadequate on coverage of surveys and inspections checklists, number of small ships surveyed and inspected, enforcement of safety standards, monitoring on surveys and inspections of vessels and no action taken by the ministry, as a result of monitoring SUMATRA’s performance.

The CAG has come up with a number of recommendations to SUMATRA to ensure that all small ships are licensed and registered timely and the database are established and maintained. It should assess its capacity in terms of human resources and facilities against its responsibility for the purpose of bringing to light, whether or not they need capacity building and in which areas.

SUMATRA has to establish computerized system for documentation of maritime activities such as registration of ships, register for small ships, records of surveys and inspections for both ships and small ships, non-compliance of safety standards and so on.

It should also establish coordination mechanisms with Fisheries Department in order to cover fishing vessels for surveys and inspections and make assessment on implementation of set plans for surveys and inspections of vessels.

Furthermore, SUMATRA should ensure surveyors are qualified and well trained as per requirements of sub sector and also are sufficient for attending available vessels. In its part, according to the CAG, the Ministry of Works, Transport and Communication should access its capacity in terms of human resources with respect to overseeing SUMATRA’s execution of its responsibility.

The ministry should also prioritize to carry out monitoring and evaluation on the performance of SUMATRA specifically on surveys and inspections of both ships and small ships. It has further to establish proper reporting mechanisms which will ensure delivery of information from SUMATRA regarding safety management in maritime transportation.

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