The ZBIDF is building a maritime safety partnership to promote safe practice, policy enforcement and adherence on Zambia’s vast waterways. This partnership is motivated by the number of needless and fatal accidents that occur on the lakes and rivers in Zambia. Of note to mention is the unfortunate accident that claimed 25 lives of mostly school children on the Lake Kariba on Independence Day (24th October 2014). This accident raised a lot of concern about the practices and enforcement of passenger transporters on Zambia’s rivers and lakes.
Previous accidents prior to the Independence Day tragedy that could have been prevented had the transporters and fishermen been adhering to safe measures and had enforcement been as regular and strict as it is on Zambia’s roads include but are not limited to the following;
- 9 Tanzanian fishermen drowned on Lake Tanganyika enroute to Mpulungu August 2014
- 7 people drowned on Lake Mweru of which 4 were Zambian citizens
- 15 fishermen drowned on Lake Tanganyika in June 2013
- 2 Copperbelt University students drowned at Nsobe Camp in July 2013
- 20 people from a DRC football team (AC Virgin) drowned when three boats capsized in March 2012 on their way back home from a football game in Zambia
The situation at hand requires the immediate attention, participation and leadership by all stakeholders to bring this scourge to an end. The argument that is always raised is that life jackets and good watercraft are too expensive for the people of Zambia to afford. This holds true until people die, then it becomes all too apparent that life is more valuable to save than arguing over costs that can easily be overcome if the a win-win solution was developed and adopted.
To get to the point where low income communities become customers for products such as life jackets, it requires that a campaign is wedged to ensure compliance to the mandatory provision and use of life jackets in watercraft, be they conventional or non-conventional.
The proposal therefore calls for business to enter into partnership with the government and communities to dialogue on the road map to ensuring that the mandatory use of life jackets as enshrined in CAP 466 of the laws of Zambia is enforced including the transition from using uncertified watercraft to those that are certified fit for purpose and are subjected to annual inspection.
The provision of seat belts in motor vehicles and the legislation surrounding that, is synonymous to what is being proposed here. Seat belt legislation requires the fitting of seat belts to motor vehicles and the wearing of seat belts by motor vehicle occupants. Laws requiring the fitting of seat belts to cars have in some cases been followed by laws mandating their use, with the effect that thousands of deaths on the road have been prevented.
It is with this background in mind that, ZBIDF, is lobbying all stakeholders in the marine industry such as regulators, insurance companies, craft operators, vendors of all marine equipment, communities and others suppliers to participate in a one day meeting that will moot out a road map towards creating a sustainable environment for mind-set change, enforcement of regulations and supply of cost effective safety devices. The meeting is expected to;
- Identify the interested parties
- Define the extent of the problem
- Define the solution
- Elaborate the resource required and identify the contributors of the resource.
- Chart the way forward
- Assign responsibilities
Noteworthy to mention is that interest has already been drawn from the following;
- Autoworld Zambia (main sponsor)
- Zambia State Insurance General Insurance
- Zambia Police Service
- Ministry of Transport, Communications Works and Supply (Marine Division)
ZBIDF is proposing to have this event take place by the 16th of March 2015.