ISLAMABAD, Oct 11: The government on Thursday announced the “Merchant Shipping Ordinance 2001” to address needs of modern shipping industry and provide basis for safe navigation in Pakistani waters.

The Merchant Shipping Ordinance 2001 replaces Merchant Shipping Act of 1923, which was not a comprehensive code, Secretary Communication, Iftikhar Rashid told the newsmen here at a press briefing.

Iftikhar Rashid said the new ordinance also includes the registration concept of ships, which was not provided in the old law. “The registration of ships in Pakistan has been made compulsory like in most of the countries.”

He said the new Ordinance covers all type of vessels including sailing and fishing vessel as the Merchant Shipping Act, 1923 had no provisions in this respect.

Giving the reasons, which necessitated the new law he said, the 1923 Act had its own limitations due to the restricted legislative powers in the field of shipping.

It was found necessary to amend it on several occasions between 1923 to 1947, he said, adding, after independence, many changes were effected in the Act through amendments in 1954, 1958 and 1966.

The government, he said, has also reduced berthing charges by 20 per cent on Pakistani ships.

Following are the salient features of Merchant Shipping Ordinance, 2001:

a) The Merchant Shipping Act, 1923 made no reference to the internationally agreed safety standards for the operation of ships. In terms of International Maritime Organization (IMO) Convention, its inclusion in the Pakistan Merchant Shipping Ordinance was necessary.

Similarly, clauses relating to seamen’s welfare, their appointment and discharge of duties and sections relating to discipline have been added in the Ordinance warranted by ILO Conventions 22 and 105.

b) In accordance with the safety standards adopted by IMO, provisions relating to installation of navigational equipment on the vessels have been added as the same did not exist in the Merchant Shipping Act, 1923.

c) Adequate provisions in respect of wreck and salvage and limitations of liabilities did not exist in the Merchant Shipping Act, 1923. Therefore, the Chapter on Wreck and Salvage has been expanded to provide basis for safe navigation in Pakistani waters.

d) In the Merchant Shipping Act, 1923, subjects relating to Shipping development funds and fees for shipping or aiding training institutions were missing. Necessary provision has been created in the new Ordinance keeping in view the needs of modern shipping industry.

e) The Merchant Shipping Act, 1923 had no clause for Registration of ships. A new Chapter for Registration and Nationality has been included.

f) The Merchant Shipping Act, 1923 neither applied on sailing and fishing vessels nor was there any provision relating to their safety. Provisions regarding nuclear ships also did not exist in the Merchant Shipping Act, 1923. New Chapters have been added on both the above stated issues.

g) In compliance with International Convention on Marine Pollution 1973/1978, provisions regarding prevention of water pollution from ships which did not exist in the Merchant Shipping Act, 1923, have now been added. These provisions would allow the Government to intervene in cases of pollution disaster and to exercise control on all pollution from ships to protect the marine environment.

h) Penalty clauses presently applicable, have not been operating as a sufficient deterrent, for the reason that they are out of date. Therefore, the penalties have been rationalized ranging from Rs100,000 to Rs500,000 which can now be imposed on defaulters.—APP

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