Regulatory updates for Tanzania’s Shipping Agents
Tanzania: Newly Published Merchant Shipping Regulations, 2023
Market Insight 12 October 2023 12 October 2023
In a continuous effort to uphold the principles outlined in the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974 and its subsequent Protocols of 1978 and 1988, the Minister for Works and Transport (the Minister), through the Government Gazette dated 21 July 2023, has introduced six new regulations (hereinafter collectively referred to as the Regulations) that are applicable to Tanzanian ships as well as non-Tanzanian ships operating within Tanzanian territorial waters.
These Regulations are:
- the Merchant Shipping (Authorisation of Recognised Organisations) Regulations, G.N 479 of 2023 (the Authorisation of Recognised Organisations Regulations);
- the Merchant Shipping (Entry into Enclosed Spaces) Regulations, G.N 480 of 2023 (the Entry into Enclosed Spaces Regulations);
- the Merchant Shipping (Requirements for Maintenance, Thorough Examination, Operational Testing, Overhaul and Repair of Lifeboats and Rescue Boats, Launching Appliances and Release Gear) Regulations, G.N 481 of 2023 (the Requirements and Examination Regulations);
- the Merchant Shipping (Establishment and Operation of Aids to Navigation) Regulations, G.N 482 of 2023 (the Establishment and Operation of Aids to Navigation Regulations);
- the Merchant Shipping (Safety of Navigation) Regulations, G.N 483 of 2023 (the Safety of Navigation Regulations); and
- the Merchant Shipping (Life Saving Appliances and Arrangements) Regulations, G.N 484 of 2023 (the Life Saving Appliances and Arrangements Regulations).
In this legal updater, we will briefly highlight how the Regulations are applicable to merchant shipping operations and consequences of noncompliance.
The following key terms have been defined in the Regulations:
“Authorised Service Provider” means an entity authorised by the TASAC (defined below) to conduct maintenance, thorough examination, operational testing, overhaul and repair of lifeboats and rescue boats, launching appliances and release gear;
“Manufacturer” means the original equipment manufacturer or any entity which has taken legal and legitimate responsibilities for equipment when the original equipment manufacturer no longer exists or supports the equipment;
“Merchant Shipping Notice” means a notice described as such issued by the Registrar (defined below) and includes reference to any document amending or replacing that notice;
“Safety Convention” means the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974 and its Protocols of 1978 and 1988, together with such amendments thereof or replacements therefore as may be in effect in respect of Tanzania (the SOLAS Convention);
“Tanzanian Ship” means a ship registered or licensed under the Merchant Shipping Act, CAP 165 (the Act), at a port in the United Republic;
“TASAC” means the Tanzania Shipping Agencies Corporation established under section 4 of the Tanzania Shipping Agencies Act, 2017;
“Tanzanian Waters” means the sea or other waters within the seaward limits of the territorial sea of Tanzania;
“Owner” means the owner of a vessel including its registered owner, a person to whom a share in the vessel belongs, bareboat charterer, manager, and operator of the vessel; and
“Registrar” means the registrar appointed under section 31 of the Tanzania Shipping Agencies Act, 2017.
The Authorisation of Recognised Organisations Regulations
The Authorisation of Recognised Organisations Regulations were enacted to give effect to Regulation 1 of Chapter XI-1 of the SOLAS Convention, focusing on the overarching duty for ensuring the safety of merchant ships.
Under the SOLAS Convention, member states bear the duty of ensuring that vessels registered under their state flag adhere to its safety obligations and maintain various safety certificates specified in the SOLAS Convention as evidence of compliance. Additionally, control provisions allow member states i.e., Tanzania, to inspect other member states vessels if there are reasonable grounds that the vessel or the vessel equipment does not meet the requirements set under the SOLAS Convention.
This process is known as port state control and is applicable to all Tanzanian ships and any other ships while in Tanzanian ports, as stated in the Authorisation of Recognised Organisations Regulations.
The Authorisation of Recognised Organisations Regulations also apply to Recognised and Authorised Organisations (RO), which perform statutory certification and services on behalf of TASAC, in accordance with the Authorisation of Recognised Organisations Regulations and the SOLAS Convention, including, but not limited to:
- safety of life at sea;
- preventing pollution from ships;
- standards of training, certification and watchkeeping for seafarers;
- load lines;
- tonnage measurement of ships;
- regulations for preventing collisions at sea; and
- right of seafarers to decent employment.
The Authorisation of Recognised Organisations Regulations do not apply to pleasure vessels, fishing vessels, traditional ships like dhows and junks, warships, or naval auxiliaries. Furthermore, the Authorisation of Recognised Organisations Regulations have introduced other concepts such as requirements for authorisation, power to issue instructions and obligations of authorised RO as outlined in its first schedule.
Tanzanian ship owners are now obligated to ensure that their ships are designed, constructed, equipped, and maintained in accordance with the rules and regulations of the authorised RO, and must have a valid class certificate issued by the authorised RO. Failure to adhere to the Authorisation of Recognised Organisations Regulations can result in penalties ranging from a minimum of USD 2,000 to a maximum of USD 10,000 (equivalent to approximately TZS 4.9 million to TZS 24.5 million).
The Entry into Enclosed Spaces Regulations
The Entry into Enclosed Spaces Regulations apply to Tanzanian ships irrespective of their location, and to other ships while they are in Tanzanian Waters, except for pleasure craft, ships without a master crew or watchman, warships or naval auxiliaries, Government-owned non-commercial service vessels, and vessels of not less than 24 metres’ length or 50 gross tonnages.
The Entry into Enclosed Spaces Regulations primarily focuses on the requirements for enclosed spaces, entrances to enclosed spaces, entry procedures, drills, testing equipment, and exemptions for certain ships.
“Enclosed spaces” are defined under the Entry into Enclosed Spaces Regulations as areas not intended for continuous worker presence, having limited entry and exit points, and inadequate ventilation. The necessary procedures for entering enclosed spaces and the principles that seafarers and their employers must adhere to are provided in Chapter 10 of the Code of Safe Working Practices for Merchant Seafarers, 2015 edition, with amendments made in 2022.
In addition, the Entry into Enclosed Regulations pose a duty to the captain to ensure that any unattended enclosed spaces on the vessel are closed or securely protected from entry.
Failure to adhere to the Entry into Enclosed Spaces Regulations carries penalties of either a fine of USD 1,000 (approximately TZS 2.4 million) or imprisonment for a term of up to 6 months or both.
The Entry into Enclosed Spaces Regulations have been established with the primary goal of ensuring the safety and well-being of seafarers and preventing accidents or incidents within enclosed spaces. The government of Tanzania recognizes the inherent risks associated with enclosed spaces, such as limited ventilation, restricted access, and potential exposure to hazardous substances. As a result, by strictly enforcing the Entry into Enclosed Spaces Regulations, the Tanzanian maritime sector can maintain high safety measures and protect the well-being of seafarers aboard ships. This commitment extends to the protection of both Tanzanian and non-Tanzanian vessels operating within Tanzanian Waters.
The Requirements and Examination Regulations
The Requirements and Examination Regulations apply universally in Tanzanian Waters to all vessels, with specific attention to lifeboat maintenance, examination, testing, overhaul and repair, including free fall and rescue boats.
TASAC is tasked with overseeing authorised agents’ periodic vessel inspections, ensuring comprehensive records are maintained on board. Notably, the Requirements and Examination Regulations do not extend to warships, naval auxiliaries, or Government-owned vessels used for non-commercial purposes.
Additionally, TASAC ensures that equipment examinations align with the Requirements and Examination Regulations, the SOLAS Convention, and TASAC-issued marine equipment conformity guidelines, as outlined in the Merchant Shipping Notices. Qualified personnel, certified by manufacturers or authorised service providers, conduct these examinations, with certification lasting 3 years, subject to renewal.
Failure to comply with the Requirement and Examination Regulations may result in penalties, including fines of USD 1,000 (approximately TZS 2.4 million) or imprisonment for a term of up to 6 months or both.
The Establishment of Operation of Aids to Navigation Regulations
The Establishment of Operation of Aids to Navigation Regulations pertain to Regulation 13 of Chapter V of the SOLAS Convention and maritime zones specified in the Territorial Sea and Exclusive Economic Zone Act, 1989. They do not extend to Government ships or ships not carrying cargo or passengers for payment of aids to navigation dues.
The Operation of Aids to Navigation Regulations designate TASAC as the authority responsible for licensing and regulating service providers in Tanzanian Waters. Compliance with the 1957 Maritime Buoyage System A of the International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities is mandatory. TASAC also has authority to declare and authorise vessel traffic service providers, approve their training, and specify restrictions on activities that interfere with navigation.
It is important to note that TASAC has the authority to perform different functions including, declaring, and authorising vessel traffic service providers; accrediting, approving training and certifying vessel traffic services; establishing and operating necessary vessel traffic services; and requiring changes to any aspect of vessel traffic. Moreover, TASAC can set rules on actions that interfere or obstruct the proper working of navigation aids within a specific area, using a Merchant Shipping Notice.
Also, any person who wishes to engage in activities related to aid navigation or vessel traffic services and any other associated activity, must possess a valid certificate issued or officially acknowledged by TASAC. This certificate serves as evidence of their competence in these service operations. Typically, TASAC has the authority to define the supplementary activities linked to aid navigation and vessel traffic services. The required training and certification procedures are administered exclusively by accredited or officially recognised training institutes, as designated by TASAC.
To seek recognition of a certificate issued by another recognised institution, an applicant is required to submit both the course content and a certified copy of the certificate. Once TASAC is satisfied with the submission and the prescribed fee is paid, a certificate of recognition will be issued.
According to the Establishment of Operation of Aids to Navigation Regulations, failure by the vessel owner to settle their aids to navigation dues can result in the vessel being denied clearance to leave the port. Which means clearance will only be authorised once the outstanding dues and any associated fines are paid, or if satisfactory security for payment is provided. It is worth noting that the Minister has the discretion to exempt specific vessels or categories of vessels from paying aids to navigation dues either partially or fully as specified in an official notice.
Failure to comply with the Establishment of Operation of Aids to Navigation Regulations can result in penalties ranging from a minimum of USD 1,000 to a maximum of USD 2,000 (equivalent to approximately TZS 2.4 million to TZS 4.9 million) or imprisonment for a term of up to 12 months or both.
The Safety of Navigation Regulations
The Safety of Navigation Regulations pertain to Chapter V of the SOLAS Convention, which covers the safety of navigation of merchant ships for member states.
The Safety of Navigation Regulations are applicable to the following:
- Tanzanian ships engaged in international voyages; and
- non-Tanzanian ships within Tanzanian Waters, even if they are flying the flag of a state not party to the SOLAS Convention, provided their presence in Tanzanian Waters is due to circumstances beyond their control, such as adverse weather conditions.
The Safety of Navigation Regulations do not apply to:
- individuals who have been rescued from another vessel or a shipwreck and are being transported by another ship;
- warships or naval auxiliaries; and
- vessels owned or operated by the Government for non-commercial purposes.
The Safety of Navigation Regulations have a multifaceted purpose, including the provision of adequate measures for the rescue of distressed ship passengers during emergencies or sea accidents. The Safety of Navigation Regulations also focus on promoting safe navigation and establishing standards for navigational equipment and systems, accounting for their installation years, before and after 1 July 2002.
It is important to note that certain ship systems and equipment, such as shipborne navigational systems and long-range identification and tracking systems, must undergo type approval by TASAC as mandated by the Safety of Navigation Regulations. However, this requirement does not apply to vessels with a gross tonnage below 150. Ship owners who do not qualify for exemption must ensure full compliance with this regulation. When exercising their authority under the Safety of Navigation Regulations, the Registrar has the discretion to provide exemptions from safety navigation requirements to ships that meet the following criteria:
- ships that, under rare and exceptional circumstances, embark on a single international voyage but typically do not engage in international voyages; and
- ships involved in voyages where various factors, such as the ship's maximum distance from the shore, voyage length, the nature of the voyage, the absence of general navigational hazards, and other conditions affecting safety, make it seem unreasonable or unnecessary to fully comply with safety navigation provisions.
The Safety of Navigation Regulations mandate that vessels engaged in international voyages maintain a comprehensive record of navigational activities and safety-related incidents. These records must adhere to TASAC guidelines and be detailed enough to reconstruct the entire voyage.
To ensure transparency and adequacy of safety navigation, vessels embarking on international voyages lasting over 48 hours must submit daily reports to their respective companies and retain these reports for the entire duration of the voyage.
Failure to comply with the Safety of Navigation Regulations may result in penalties ranging from a minimum of USD 2,000 to a maximum of USD 3,000 (equivalent to approximately TZS 4.9 million to 7.3 million) or imprisonment for a term of up to 12 months or both. Please note that these penalties may vary depending on the nature of the breach or noncompliance.
The Life Saving Appliances and Arrangements Regulations
The Life Saving Appliances and Arrangements Regulations pertain to Chapter III of the SOLAS Convention, and apply to Tanzanian vessels, non-Tanzanian ships within Tanzanian Waters, and Tanzanian pleasure vessels used for hire or payment.
The Life Saving Appliances and Arrangements Regulations do not apply to the following:
- warships or naval auxiliaries;
- vessels owned or operated by the Government, engaged only on governmental non-commercial activities;
- wooden local ships like dhows and junks;
- fishing vessels, passenger ships of class III up to class VI (A);
- pleasure non-Tanzanian vessels;
- vessels of not less than 24 meters’ length or 50 gross tonnages; and
- non-Tanzanian ships flying the flag of a state not party to the SOLAS Convention, which find themselves in Tanzanian Waters solely due to unforeseeable circumstances such as adverse weather conditions, and for reasons beyond the control of both the vessel's master and owner or charterer.
The safety and well-being of passengers and crew during maritime commercial operations are of utmost significance. As a result, the Life Saving Appliances and Arrangements Regulations mandate that vessels must be equipped with suitable life-saving devices such as lifeboats, lifebuoys, life jackets, life rafts, and various other essential equipment. These provisions are in place to ensure that passengers and crew have the necessary resources in the event of an emergency, safeguarding their lives at sea.
The Life Saving Appliances and Arrangements Regulations outline specific compliance criteria for ships, taking into account their construction date, whether before or after 1 July 1998, and their intended voyages, distinguishing between international and non-international journeys. These regulations categorize ships into different classes, encompassing passenger vessels from Class I to Class VIA and non-passenger vessels from Class VII to Class XII. In the case of Tanzanian vessels, the Registrar or a duly authorised individual is responsible for approving the life-saving equipment carried on board. Furthermore, the Registrar has the authority to grant approvals for matters that typically fall under the purview of the state whose flag the ship is registered under, in accordance with Chapter III of the SOLAS Convention.
In some cases, the Registrar may exercise discretion by either granting exemptions or issuing alternative safety requirements. This discretionary power aims to ensure the safety of the ship or a specific class of ships, particularly when strict adherence to the Life Saving Appliances and Arrangements Regulations is deemed impractical or unfeasible.
Failure to comply with the Life Saving Appliances and Arrangements Regulations carries penalties, including a fine of USD 5,000 (equivalent to approximately TZS 12.2 million), imprisonment for a period of up to 2 years, or both.
The Regulations present a substantial endeavour by the Ministry of Works and Transport to strengthen TASAC and the broader Tanzanian shipping sector. These efforts aim to facilitate operations and ensure alignment with global benchmarks, encompassing international conventions such as the SOLAS convention, the International Convention on Load Lines of 1966, the International Convention on Tonnage Measurement of Ships of 1969, and the International Maritime Labour Convention of 2006.
It is of utmost importance for merchant shipping operators, agencies, and other relevant stakeholders to adhere to the Regulations and exercise meticulous compliance, to avoid the penalties stipulated in the Regulations.