- Published on Thursday, 09 August 2012 03:10
- Written by MZURI ISSA in Zanzibar
- Hits: 931
For Zanzibari dwellers,the trip from Dar es Salaam to Zanzibar becomes interesting when the ship they travel in approaches Chumbe Island, nearly eight kilometers from Zanzibar through Malindi main port.
Chumbe is covered with green grass and the tower on the isolated beautiful island stands out. This sight signifies the end of the journey and increases up the euphoria to get home.
However, Chumbe has turned out to be a point of disaster with the refreshing of big wounds of the capsizing of MV Skagit last month.
Hemed Salim, a first year student at the Muslim University of Morogoro said Chumbe signifies something else since the MV Skagit accident which killed over 150 people on board. “I have totally lost the courage and enthusiasm of looking out for the Island as I used to when passing by.
My heart aches when I remember the accident and colleagues of mine who died,” said Hemed who travelled to Zanzibar five days after the MV Skagit tragedy. He said that about 20 students of his university many in their first year of studies passed away. A frequent passenger, Asha Hamid blames government officials for failing to manage sea transportation efficiently.
According to her travelling by sea is the most reliable means of transport in Zanzibar for people from all walks of life. “I am comfortable traveling by sea to Dar es Salaam and Pemba even though I could afford to travel by air,” she said. Reports over the number of passengers carried by the ship which capsized near Chumbe Island vary around and over 290 passengers. However, some 150 people survived, over 110 people found dead and others missing on the ill-fated ship.
According to reports of the 105 people who were hitherto identified as dead 45 were women and 19 children provided a clear cut that these groups are defenseless and not prepared at all to face sudden tragedies of the sea. In a previous accident which claimed the lives of more than 1,000 people, MV, Spice Islander women and children were amongst the dead.
With a combination of kidney problems for survivors, psychological trauma and disorientation for those who lost their beloved ones from the two accidents, Tanzanians as a whole have suffered dearly in this span of a year. While MV Skagit capsized at Chumbe Island, MV Spice went down at Nungwi area, Unguja north while moving from Zanzibar to Pemba.
In a country as small as Zanzibar this is a big loss urging for multifaceted approaches to resolve the problem and redeem the confidence of its people over the sea transport. Recently Zanzibar President, Dr. Ali Mohammed Shein ordered the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs to make sure that it looks for a sophisticated ships abroad to transport people safely as a solution to the already pandemic drawback in marine transport.
This is indeed a wise solution but the mechanism to govern the sea system for private vessels is another problem adamantly crying for multiple prescriptions on registration laws and the subsequent rules. Registration must be based on merits not names of which officials in the authority need to be satisfied beyond doubt that the vessel is capable in other words sea worthy.
On the other hand, Zanzibaris should be informed on the competency of the authority in charge to handle such high technological issues. Corruption seems to get in the way of the registration of these sea vessels and the related rules and there is an urgent need that the rules and regulations are respected for sake of our safety and lives. Such a bold move will spare women and children from avoidable tragedies and trauma emanating from the sea transportation.