By Alimatu Fofanah
Vice President, Ambassador Victor Bockarie Foh on Tuesday commissioned five Navy Search and Rescue Boats at the Queen Elizabeth11 Quay.
Speaking on the significance of the search and rescue boats, the Vice President said the boats will complement the efforts of the Maritime sub-Rescue Centre at Murray Town, adding that the boats were additional safety measures for the Sierra Leone Maritime Administration which will now have fast patrol crafts to go after boats that flout safety regulations such as overloading of boats, non-use of lifejackets, unlicensed and unworthy boats, among others.
He called on the police and military to work collaboratively with the Sierra Leone Maritime Administration in order to ensure sea safety and sea faring attractive and also achieve the goals of the Administration.
Vice President Foh noted with considerable interest and satisfaction that the multi-purpose boats will be useful in fighting fire at sea in the event of any fire outbreak, thereby saving lives and properties swiftly at sea.
The Vice President maintained that, with the useful additional function of the boats, he will encourage the Sierra Leone Maritime Administration to utilize the expertise and services of the National Fire Service to provide adequate fire-fighting training for users of the boats. Victor Foh said the SLMA was instituted 15 years back and that the sole aim was to tackle the several incidence that occur at sea, ensure safety at sea, protect the Maritime Environment and Regulation of Maritime security under the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code.
The Vice President went on to highlight some of the challenges facing SLMA in terms of rapid response, among others;, adding that, their government over the years had gradually addressed the challenges by building the capacity of the SLMA and that the commissioning of the boats was a clear indication of their government additional capacity building of the Administration.
He expressed hope that the boats will improve on the efficiency and effectiveness of the Sierra Leone Maritimes Administration in the performance of it functions.
The Minister of Transport and Aviation, Balogun Koroma who served as chairman of the ceremony said the commissioning of the five Naval Patrol Boat would be of immense value to the National Maritime needs.
The Minister stated that the boats will ensure timely response to distress to alerts and the capacity to chase and apprehend maritime defaulters on the territorial of the country’s water.
He said he is confident that the newly acquired boats will allow the country to carry out her international obligations while at the same time enhance the inland waterways transport and monitoring capacity.
Minister Logus said his ministry was proud of such an historic development because the need for Maritime Patrol Boats has long overdue.
In his statement, the Maritime Administrator, Wurroh Jalloh noted that the boats would be able to deter all boats doing business in the country’s waters from doing the wrong thing at sea.
He assured all those operators doing business at sea that his Administration can now reached them at anytime to inspect their vessels.
Mr. Jalloh restated that the time has come for his Administration which has been additionally capacitated to enforce the Maritime Regulations especially to the various categories of boats that are operating on the water.
The commissioning ceremony, Mr. Jalloh described it as historic event as it was the first time in the history of the Administration to get such that amount of fleet for it operations.
Sierra Leone Maritime Administration, he said, will be able to respond to distress calls out at sea and to do the necessary search and rescue operations.