SA strengthens regional cooperation at sea

Friday, November 19, 2010

Pretoria - South Africa boosted its sea and air search and rescue capabilities by signing a cooperation agreement with Zimbabwe, Mauritius and Uruguay on Friday.

Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele said the agreement would help South Africa tighten its operations, enhancing its good safety record.

"We strive to implement stringent safety measures in the areas of aviation and maritime transport in pursuance of international standards and recommended practices," said Ndebele.

South Africa had identified 14 countries in its search and rescue region with which to partner. To date, seven agreements have been signed, four agreements have been concluded and are ready for signature. One has been negotiated and two are still to be negotiated.

The minister said the agreements would make it easy for all these countries to execute their rescue missions and rely on each other for assistance and support.

As part of today's agreement, common search and rescue procedures will be developed. Resources will be pooled and mutual visits will be undertaken.

Easy entry of Search and rescue units in each other's territories and the establishment of one or more commitments provide for ongoing cooperation in improving effectiveness in this field will be facilitated.

Ndebele said there was a high level of inter-regional cooperation when it came to passing on information regarding incidents within each other's regions.

"When we are aware of an incident within the neighbouring region, we will try to assist where possible by gathering information, put out broadcasts and on occasion, even contract vessels in order to assist. This practice is reciprocated by all concerned," he said.