New bill on safety of light cargo vessels approved
Manama, April 15, 2014
A new law covering safety regulations for light cargo ships was approved yesterday by Bahrain's Shura Council.
Under existing law, Coastguards can only deal with ships below 150 tonnes while international maritime treaties do not come into force until a vessel reaches 500 tonnes, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
The new law will enable the Transportation Ministry to deal with ships that are between 150 and 500 tonnes.
It is designed to standardise safety procedures, protect the maritime environment and unify the issuance of the appropriate certificates for such vessels.
Manning levels and the proper operation of such ships are also set to be enhanced.
Public utilities and environment affairs committee vice-chairman Fouad Al Hajji said that the ships' safety and security was of upmost importance to all GCC states.
"The range to be covered by this law is not included in any international maritime treaty and with it we hope to enforce more safety and security," he said.
"Coastguards will continue their role with ships below 150 tonnes and soon the Transportation Ministry will be responsible for ships between 150 and 500 tonnes."
The new bill has been drawn up in line with a decision made at the GCC Leaders Summit in Riyadh in December, 2011 and will be now ratified by His Majesty King Hamad after being approved by parliament earlier.
Meanwhile, council members also yesterday approved an article in the new maritime code that differentiates between vessels that are registered with Bahraini authorities and those that are granted Bahraini "citizenship".
Voting was postponed on the bill earlier this month because councillors were confused about the terms used.
They opposed the amendment made to the code, which also stated that a Bahraini ship owner, shareholder or Bahrain-registered company could give their vessels a "nationality," meaning it would have to follow Bahrain's rules and regulations.
However, Transportation Ministry acting assistant under-secretary for ports affairs Hassan Al Majed said at the time that the confusion had been caused because the code had been translated from English to Arabic. - TradeArabia News Service