Boat owners must provide for safety at sea
The Solomon Star newspaper today featured a story about how travelling between the islands in the Central Province has become convenient and the sea trip between Honiara and Ngella popular due to the regular outboard motor connections.
The article relayed how travelling by a fast powered boat is relatively cheap and a quicker means of reaching destinations.
Recognising that boat travel is a fact of ever day life in the Solomon Islands, I am mindful that far too many innocent lives have been lost at sea in tragic boating incidents over many years.
While the use of fast craft is clearly becoming the choice of travel for many, I very much hope the owners of the boats used to carry passengers have complied with all safety measures to protect passengers on sea journeys.
I hope, too, boat owners will heed weather warnings and not put to sea in bad weather such as following gale warnings, storm warnings and during severe thunderstorms.
Passengers on boats should be given lifejackets to wear during sea crossings and such lifejackets must be of an approved standard and quality to ensure buoyancy in the water,
Boats should also be provided with distress flares, flash lights (torches), emergency indicator beacons and paddles.
It could well be that the safety equipment I have mentioned should be provided to passengers and kept on board a boat, is not provided for in sea safety regulations in the Solomon Islands as yet, but which are standard requirements in many regional countries outside of the Solomons. Nevertheless, boat owners must take it upon themselves to ensure their passengers are provided with the necessary safety gear and their boats carry the vitally important items to aid any sea rescue operation should an emergency situation occur.