Experts from member countries of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) meeting in Abidjan on Wednesday recommended the establishment of a Regional Maritime Transport Fund.
The idea is to finance the operations of the Marine Search and Rescue Centre (SAR) in Abidjan, the main structure for coordinating operations in the UEMOA region.
This recommendation was made following a three-day meeting of the Regional Committee for the Coordination of Marine Search and Rescue Operations.
According to the Chairman of the meeting, Fabrice Metonwaho of Benin, the Abidjan confab recommended to UEMOA Commission to “set up the Regional Maritime Transport Fund for the purpose of financing SAR operations.”
It was also recommended that it “provide support for capacity-building (equipment, training) for the national centres and the main SAR centre” and “develop the manual defining the operating procedures of the main centre and the national centres.”
The objective is to save lives in distress, Mr. Metonwaho added, referring to the provision of UEMOA which allows states to collect fees through products carried by foreign vessels.
“There is no fixed rate. It’s done by tonnage,” he said.
With regard to states, the experts recommended in particular that the National Maritime Transport Fund be set up by January 2020 at the latest, especially for the purpose of financing SAR operations in accordance with the UEMOA implementing regulations determining the rate, procedures for collecting and distributing fees due by community and foreign shipowners operating an international transport service.
Of the eight UEMOA member countries, five namely Cote d’Ivoire, Benin, Guinea Bissau, Togo and Senegal are coastal states.
The other three Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger which have no coastline are depend on coastal states.