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 Regulations to license freight forwarders
 

High demand for seafarers and ship repair men in the market

The Merchant Shipping Division of the Ports and Aviation Ministry is in the process of formulating regulations to license freight forwarders.

The draft regulations will be in place within the next three months.

The Ministry has had discussions with industry players, Merchant Shipping Director General Shantha Weerakoon told Daily News Business.

Merchant Shipping Division of the Ports and Aviation Ministry is the regulatory body of the shipping industry.

It issues licences for shipping agents and depot operators.

The report by the Presidential Committee on Maritime matters has made recommendations to regulate ship repairers, clearing and forwarding agents and ship chandlers.

“We are responsible for the Sri Lankan seafarers. There are 18,000 active seafarers. They bring foreign exchange in excess of Rs 13 billion annually.

We conduct examinations for seafarer officer grade as well as ratings. We issue certificates up to Master Marine and Marine Chief Engineers. This is a facility available at present and in the past they had to go to countries such as UK, Singapore, Australia and India to obtain qualifications,” Weerakoon said.

There are six approved, State and privately owned sea farers’ training colleges in Sri Lanka. There is a high demand for seafarers especially for officer grades. They are unable to meet the demand as even during the recession officer grades of seafarers were not affected.

Master marine (ship captain) and marine chief engineers could draw a monthly salary of between US $ 8,000 to 10,000.

The Ministry has signed agreements with 25 countries which are the all major ship owning countries where 90 percent of the world shipping tonnage is owned, to recognize the certificates awarded by local training institutes. This will enable those passing out to secure employment abroad”.

Plans are under way to set up Maritime training colleges in Trincomalee and Hambantota to produce more professionals in the field.

“We have an open register system where ship owners can register their vessels under the Sri Lankan flag. Our standardization is stringent and therefore owners who have sub-standard ships will not be entertained here,” Weerakoon said.

The Merchant Shipping Division is the focal point of International Maritime Organization (IMO) which is responsible for shipping.

Sri Lanka is party to all the important international shipping conventions formulated by the IMO and will accommodate few more international shipping conventions in the near future.
(DN-12032010)

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