13 January 2011
Dinner at Hotel Sheraton International, Dhaka
Speech by Mr. E.E. Mitropoulos, Secretary-General, IMO
Honourable Minister, Permanent Secretary for Shipping, Honourable Ministers, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
This has, of necessity, been just a fleeting visit for me to this wonderful, vibrant, colourful and very hospitable country of yours.
I am well aware that my two days here have allowed me to do only scant justice to the many opportunities it affords, but I am grateful nevertheless for the kindness you have shown by inviting me here and for the warm and generous hospitality I, and my colleague, have enjoyed during my stay.
I have had a busy programme but I must say that my visit to the Bangladesh Marine Academy was a highlight for me. Against the background of the global shipping industry’s much-publicized problems concerning the recruitment and retention of a sufficient labour force, it was gratifying indeed to see such an enthusiastic body of young people working hard to gain the skills and the knowledge they will need to take their place in the shipping industry of tomorrow. I was impressed by their discipline and high morale and wish them every success in life and the best of luck.
I have no doubt that, under the guiding hand of their Commandant and his staff, their lecturers and instructors, they will emerge fully equipped to play their part in the quest we all share, that of continually improving the safety, efficiency and environmental performance of the industry on which almost the entire world depends.
The most recent study on the worldwide demand for quality seafarers, points to recent improvements in the supply side numbers and in the quality of seafarers and, to a great extent, this might be ascribed to increased training provisions, on one hand, and the ever-higher training and certification standards enshrined in the relevant IMO Convention. Accordingly, it is equally imperative that these highly positive trends be maintained and improved upon by ensuring that, in addressing the manpower shortage in the shipping industry, quality does not suffer for the sake of increasing quantity.
The project to upgrade the maritime education and training infrastructure in Bangladesh by upgrading the Marine Academy to university status and creating five new academies is a good example of how seriously you take these matters here in Bangladesh and I would, once again, wish to commend you for it.
I have also been pleased to hear of the progress that is being made in addressing other maritime-related matters of great domestic concern, in particular ship recycling and ferry safety.
On ship recycling, I can see the great benefits your respective industry can derive from the NORAD project, the initial offer of which in the region of US$5m should galvanize action at all levels to exploit the opportunity and, together with IMO, create better conditions for its workers. I personally stand ready to assist you in this in any way I can.
I was equally pleasantly surprised to hear and see, with my own eyes, the progress Bangladesh is making in the shipbuilding industry and wish you every success in this high technology business.
All these (ship recycling, inland ferry services, climate change) are difficult and complex issues and no-one pretends that anyone can merely wave a magic wand and solve all the associated problems. In the case of ship recycling, shipbuilding and ferry services, in particular, all concerned would, I think, share a common vision – of industries that are safe, clean and efficient, and which serve to bolster the economy of Bangladesh and improve the lives of the people of your country, at the same time securing, in the case of climate change, the very existence of the low level lands of the country against rising sea waters.
Of course, the path towards achieving those aims is not a simple one to navigate. At this stage, allow me just to re-iterate that IMO is willing and ready to assist, wherever it can, to help Bangladesh find positive and lasting outcomes to the issues I just highlighted, to the benefit of all parties concerned.
Ministers, ladies and gentlemen,
Let me conclude by thanking you, collectively, once again for what has undoubtedly been a visit to remember. I believe the bond between Bangladesh, an IMO Council Member, and the Organization has never been stronger and I am grateful to all of you who have worked so diligently to make it so.
May my visit here herald the dawn of an even better and closer relationship between the two sides to our mutual benefit.