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Businessmen seek revamp of safety laws at Dubai Creek
Tuesday, May 01, 2012
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Though dhows are in poor shape, officials say they meet requirements.
With as many as four instances of boats catching fire on the Dubai Creek in the last 12 months, the dockyard is increasingly being viewed by many as unsafe.

The Creek is a temporary home for hundreds of wooden dhows from countries like India, Iran, Yemen and Somalia, most of which are poorly maintained and do not generally adhere to international safety regulations.

Adding to that is the variety of cargo, some of which are highly inflammable, that the boats are loaded with.

Though there have been only minor injuries in the last few accidents, over the years, goods worth millions of dirhams have been gutted in fires, leaving businessmen and cargo operators to bear heavy losses.

They feel it's about time the entire operations in Dubai Creek are revamped and dhows are subjected to international safety standards.

"Most of these boats are very old and very poorly managed. There is hardly any safety equipment on the dhows," Mohammad Ayoub, a sailor who has been coming to Dubai on dhows for the last two decades, said.  
Haphazard loading

He added that overloading of the dhows and loading of cargo in a haphazard manner without separating inflammable goods from others, add to the problems.

When contacted, Dubai's ports operator, DP World, said that the operations at Dubai Creek are overseen by the Dubai Customs, which was unavailable for comment despite repeated attempts by Gulf News.

However, Trakhees, the EHS Ports and maritime regulator in Dubai, added that all ships and dhows operating in and out of Dubai are mandated to follow international safety regulations.

Speaking to Gulf News, Arif Al Dehail, CEO of Trakhees, said: "All foreign ships anchored in Dubai waters must comply with applicable International Maritime Organisation (IMO) conventions, including but not limited to Solas, National Transport Authority requirements. Moreover, ships calling on DP World ports in Dubai must comply with Trakhees EHS (Environmental Health and Safety) regulations, in addition to the above said regulations to ensure high level of safety in the ports and visiting ships."

He added that in Dubai, Trakhees' ports and maritime team inspects ships visiting DP World ports to ensure that port safety regulations and all applicable IMO conventions, regulations and codes are complied with.

Ship inspections

Also at the federal level, port state inspectorates of the National Transport Authority inspect ships to ensure that they abide by IMO and federal compliance requirements.

Awareness is also created through client forums, circulars, training on port safety, accreditation on port EHS regulations, conducting regular drills at port facilities involving ships, etc.

He emphasised that in the last three years, there have been no fire accidents in DP World's ports in Dubai due to the strict enforcement of the port EHS regulations and other applicable local and international requirements, confirming that the Dubai Creek doesn't fall under its jurisdiction.  

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