PLANS are underway to enact a law that will see people aboard canoes for fishing activities or safari face legal measures for failure to wear life jackets.
The government noted that the move was meant to heighten safety on the country’s waters.
Tanzania Shipping Agency (TASAC) Director General, Emmanuel Ndomba revealed this in Geita Region when he was speaking to operators and vessel owners about education programme on marine safety.
He told the residents of Ujaluoni, Lunazi and Izumacheli wards in Geita that if the law becomes operational, it will help in reducing or even ending accidents on waters which have been claiming lives of hundreds of Tanzanians.
"There is need to punish anyone who board vessels, especially canoes, without wearing a life jacket. The purpose of such penalties is to reduce the risks on the ocean and lakes." Mr Ndomba stated.
Over the past two years, water transportation has tremendously improved following the government's bold decision to establish Tanzania Shipping Agencies Corporation (Tasac) under Section 4 of the Tanzania Shipping Agencies Act No 14 of 2017. The agency became effective from February 2018.
Mr Ndomba said in the past two years, TASAC has successfully improved the water transportation safety by strengthening security in marine vessels.
"Tasac ensures that there is safety in water transportation services by ensuring that operators adhere to marine rules and regulations. And that is the plan to end deaths caused by accidents. We want to see all people boarding boats and canoes wearing life jackets,” he insisted.
Mr Ndomba explained further that Tasac during the past two years stood firm in ensuring that International Maritime Organisation (IMO) protocols, agreements and guidelines were adhered to as a way of not only boosting marine transport safety, but also conserve the environment which is vital for marine life.
Number of accidents in water transportation has gone down the country whereby 15 accidents were recorded in 2019 from 18 accidents in the previous year. "This achievement was a result of focusing on education programmes to operators and vessel owners," he said.
Hamisi Athumani 'Bangaiza', one of the passenger boat owners in Nkome Mini Port, said he is currently ensuring that passengers wear life jackets to avoid deaths in the event of accidents.
Fortunata Komeja, a resident of Nkome, said in the past, marine safety was something that was not given the desired weight, but since the establishment of TASAC in 2018, there were a lot changes, including increased awareness among people over the importance of putting on life jackets.
In his remarks, TASAC Geita Regional Officer, Rashid Katonga said: "We (TASAC) inspect and ensure that all vessels are in good condition at all times, and even those passengers boarding the vessels are safe while traveling.”