A sub-regional workshop on the safety of domestic vessels and passenger ferries has been held in Kampala, Uganda (13-17 March). The event forms part of IMO’s work to establish effective global safety standards for domestic passenger ferries.  

Representatives of maritime administrations and shipping companies, including 46 surveyors, attended the workshop from seven countries in the eastern and southern Africa region: Kenya, Malawi, South Sudan, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. As well as representing the host nation, it was opened by Mr. Bageya Waiswa, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Works and Transport, Republic of Uganda. 

The workshop recommended the use of the IMO Model Regulations on Domestic Ferry Safety. These were adopted by the Maritime Safety Committee in April 2022 at its 105th meeting because of concern about poor passenger ship safety records and unacceptably high loss of life on domestic voyages in some countries. Covering issues such as certification; manning; safety management; navigation and communications equipment and life-saving appliances the model regulations provide framework provisions on domestic ferry safety for incorporation into national law. 

Those who use those Model Regulations as well as earlier model safety regulations agreed regionally in 2001 for inland waterways vessels and non-convention craft, including fishing vessels operating in Africa were urged to provide IMO with feedback on their operation.  

There are 350 registered domestic vessels of 24 metres and above operating in the region’s inland waters.  It is thought that globally around 95% of ferry-related fatalities occur on domestic voyages.  

Regulations specific to vessels that use inland waterways or lakes, and which provide crucial services for passengers and cargo in those countries with no coastline, were deemed necessary because they are not generally covered by regulations under the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS).  

Through a series of presentations, discussions and on-board-practical inspections of a passenger ferry and a cargo ship, participants in the Kampala workshop shared expertise and knowledge and exchanged views on salient operational and safety issues. 

The workshop adopted a resolution urging participating countries, in collaboration with relevant national stakeholders and interested parties, to develop, review and update their national legislative and administrative requirements and practices relating to the operation of domestic vessels and passenger ferries with a view to ensuring adequate safety measures are included national legislation and practices. 

The workshop was supported by Capt. Dave Muli, IMO Regional Coordinator for Eastern and Southern Africa and facilitated by a team of two consultants, Capt. Babacar Diop and Mr Juvenal Shiundu. 


Watch a video about the importance of the Model Regulations on Domestic Ferry Safety here.