Seventy villagers from Beqa island received boat master and class 6 licensing certification today from the Minister for Employment, Productivity, Industrial Relations and Youth and Sports Hon. Parveen Bala Kumar.
The training is a government initiative held at Dakuibeqa village in conjunction with the Maritime Safety Authority of Fiji.
It was a result of extensive consultation with various stakeholders in the shipping and transportation industry hence the need to comply with international laws and standards concerning safety at sea for sea farers.
Kumar told village participants most of whom were youths that sea safety is everyone’s responsibility and a lot of emphasis is placed upon the captain for overall safety of the passengers.
This training also raised the awareness on the importance of sea safety on issues like proper advice to family members on their travel itineraries, estimated time of return, proper boat compliance and required standards as prescribed by law.
It also raised the importance of having proper communication tools onboard, light and emergency supplies and the need for proper passenger numbers, awareness of weather patterns and news.
Minister Kumar said negligence by boat captain and ignorance of proper procedures of operating sea transport has been the main cause of most sea accidents.
“I encourage all boat captains on Beqa Island to adhere to the MSAF laws and practice what you have learnt from this training,” he said.
“People of Beqa depend on you and you must return their trust by applying best practices of sea farers when operating a boat.
“As captains you’re accountable for the lives of your passengers. It is your principle duty to ensure safety at all times for your passengers and yourself.”
Village headman of Dakuibeqa, Sevanaia Waqasaqa acknowledged government efforts to certify villagers with boat master and class 6 licenses.
“It is an honor for our villagers to have received such a training considering our only mode of transportation is by sea and which is very significant for our daily livelihood,” he said.
“Our villagers daily commute to Navua and Suva through the sea and many of villagers have been using boats but now have become fully certified boat captains.”