FERRY ACCIDENT REPORT REVEALS FULL SCALE OF DISASTER
The Tanzanian government appears shell shocked over leaks of the long awaited and well nearly locked up report of the commission of enquiry, and was seemingly unable to answer allegations as the 50th anniversary of Independence from Britain approaches.
Information received from both Zanzibar and Dar es Salaam indicate that the figures previously published, and very grudgingly raised as more and more relatives came forward claiming to have lost family members, was grossly, if not outright deliberately understated by official organs of government.
Figures now leaked inspite of extensive measures to keep the report under wraps, talk of as many as 2.764 people still missing from the fatal sinking of the ferry MV Spice Islander I, which was enroute from Unguja island to Pemba island and sunk less than two hours into the journey. The stricken vessel, licensed to carry no more than 600 passengers, had according to the report nearly 6 times as many passengers on board as she sailed, already banking to the side, and the official report is quoted to have mentioned 3.586 passengers on board. It was also established that only about 100 life vests were available for the sanctioned 600 passengers, and that the manifest was obviously falsified showing a relatively lower figure of only 610 on board. This, if indeed true as one would expect the report of a fully fledged Commission of Enquiry to be would make it one of peacetimes worst maritime disasters in history and for sure the worst in East Africas history. It has also been suggested that any insurance, if any had in fact been taken out, would probably invalidate as a result of evident fraud on the manifest and the gross negligence on part of the owners and the ships master in taking excessive numbers of travelers on board, which could invalidate insurance covers.
Government mouthpieces, trying hard to contain the damage done by the report to the image of Tanzania abroad at the time of the Golden Jubilee Independence, were swift to blame double accounting and multiple reporting of missing persons, a notion however rejected by the commissioners who had spent weeks in reconciling the reports of missing travelers filed by their families.
From usually well informed sources it is also understood that pressure has been applied on the commissions members to moderate their figures when the final version of the report is due to be handed in on the 15th November, not an unlikely scenario by any standards considering how governments in this region have in the past contained such damaging information, which in this case fully exposed a supervision and licensing machinery completely failing to live up to any acceptable standards. Watch this space as certainly a fully blown controversy over facts and figures is now bound to erupt in Tanzania.
Archive for November 11th, 2011
FERRY ACCIDENT REPORT REVEALS FULL SCALE OF DISASTER
WATER RATIONING MAY AFFECT TOURIST RESORTS TOO
Information was received from Mauritius that the ongoing water shortage will extend right across the peak holiday season over Christmas and New Year into January 2012, with periodic rationing now a problem for not just the tourist sector but the Mauritian population at large. Sources on the island claim that annual rainfall has progressively reduced in recent years, keeping, similar to the Seychelles, the reservoirs far from their full capacity and subsequently having to reduce the supply of piped water to many parts of the island.
It is understood that tourist resorts are given priority in deliveries of piped water and as and where necessary supplies by bowser trucks but this fall out of the ongoing climate change is likely to not just persist but worsen in coming years, necessitating additional investments in tapping into water resources or else going into large scale desalination plants.
The Seychelles, in comparison, have installed substantial de-salination capacity in the recent past to produce potable water from sea water, but of course at a substantially higher cost per unit than harvested rain water. Watch this space.
The famous landmark State House in Victoria, now seat of the President and previously the mansion of the British colonial governors, is turning 100 years old this week. Already open for visits by tourists one day a week, when guided tours are conducted through the manicured gardens and along the historic buildings, a special ceremony later this morning will be held in the grounds of State House to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the building being completed and first occupied in 1911.
Tourists on the island right now will also be able to purchase commemorative postal stamps, which are being launched to coincide with the event, and those lucky to secure a spot in the guided tour this week or next week will be able to go home and tell the story of the Seychelles not just offering a pristine environment over 50 percent of the archipelago is under special protection as nature and marine reserves but also full of history.
Happy Birthday it is then and many more returns in full splendour, if a building can receive such good wishes that is.
SEYCHELLES TO ARM FISHING VESSELS, OFFERS ARMED PROTECTION TO SHIPPING
Information was received from Victoria yesterday that the government has in the face of a recent abduction by Somali ocean terrorists of two Seychellois fishermen stepped up the ante by granting armed escorts to all fishing boats under the national flag. Reportedly did Home Affairs Minister Joel Morgan also point to the fact that none of the foreign flagged fishing vessels with armed escorts on board had been hijacked and that in the past months any attempt to capture one of them was successfully repelled.
The Seychelles were the first country to actively and robustly engage the ocean terrorists and recaptured in the past hijacked vessels by using appropriate force, disabling and sinking pirate motherships and skiffs and bringing the criminals to swift justice in the courtrooms of Victoria.
New is that foreign vessels, bound for the Seychelles, may now also request armed guards to be flown to their previous port of call to join the ships for armed protection, at a cost that is, and will then also be accompanied to their next port of call after leaving the Seychelles, a strong commitment by the Seychelles government to protect their national interests which are threatened by ocean terrorists who pose a clear and present danger. The move was hailed by supporters of robust and determined responses against the menace while the usual cry babies have already voiced their concern over the escalation of force, yet have not ever come up with constructive countermeasures aimed to contain ocean terror or how to defeat it.
It is understood from a usually spot on source on Mahe that the offer for armed guards is also available for cruise ships wishing to call on Victoria harbour, in order to bring back the big ocean liners with their big revenues to the archipelago. A request has reportedly also been made to the Nepalese government to provide at least a company of the famous Ghurkas to the Seychelles which can be used to deploy alongside the regular Seychellois units already fighting ocean terror, and as the reputation as fearsome fighters precedes the Ghurkas also part of elite units in the UK armed forces the pirates would be well advised to think long and hard before attempting to incur the wrath and fierce mentality of such battle hardened men on board of ships. This correspondent can only welcome the move by the Seychelles government and encourage others to follow suit and and fight back. Watch this space.
AIR TANZANIA TURNS TO BOMBARDIER / CANDADIAN GOVERNMENT FOR LOANS
Air Tanzania, presently flying a single Bombardier Q300 plane, has gotten creative in the face of adversity and reportedly approached the Canadian manufacturer with the aim to acquire aircraft from them, thought to be initially of CRJ200 makes. Usually well informed and reliable sources have mentioned, that in order to transform the new strategic plan of ATCL into action, the airline would require additional aircraft, preferably jets of smaller size to return to the market with a chance to financially survive, and the CRJ200 is already operating in the wider region with a measure of success for their respective operators.
Attempts by ATCL to dry or wetlease aircraft on the open market are presently constrained by the lack of sufficient cash, as lessors, wary of Air Tanzanias troubled past and huge outstanding and long overdue debts, would ask for very substantial upfront payments, something the airline in turn could not afford, limiting the options for them to expand their fleet.
Bombardier in turn is said to be keen to establish a greater presence in the region and the Canadian governments export credit agency would more than likely be on board to make a deal happen, as long as the Tanzanian government steps up and guarantees any loans in case of default.
That however may be the crunch issue as Tanzania, cash strapped too, may find it difficult to make a major financial commitment at this time, even if only as a guarantee, having found it already hard to pay for the heavy maintenance of the Q300 which was held by the AMO in South Africa for nonpayment for the most part of this year. A Canadian delegation, likely to include Bombardier and EDC staff, is expected to visit Dar es Salaam for talks with ATCL and government officials to discuss a framework under which a deal could be structured and implemented.
Meanwhile is Embraer also reportedly pushing itself into the frame, already having established a major presence in the East African market and being willing to offer smaller jets too, like from their successful E170 to E190 series. Embraer is generally being thought to be more flexible with export financing and can count on the full support of the Brazilian government to do export deals for their high tech manufacturing sector. Interesting times ahead, especially in view of the surrounding economic factors now playing out in Eastern Africa like inflation, slackening demand and empty government coffers. Watch this space.