12 January 2018

Tanzania: Queries Linger Over Seized Ship's Status

AUTHORITIES in Tanzania are making a follow-up on reports of a Tanzanian-flagged cargo ship christened 'Andromeda' which was seized in Greece with materials used in making explosives, reportedly destined to Libya.

The United Nations (UN) and the European Union (EU) imposed sanctions in the year 2011 prohibiting the sale, export and transfer of arms to the crisis-stricken Libya.

"I cannot comment much at the moment but the government of Tanzania is aware of the reports and we are making efforts to get more details," Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation, Dr Susan Kolimba, told 'Daily News' in a telephone interview yesterday.

Dr Kolimba added further that it was not yet clear whether the vessel had been registered in Tanzania Mainland or Zanzibar.

According to reports from Athens, the ship approached Crete in Greece on January 6, this year, with eight crew members, including two Ukrainians, five Indians and one Albanian national on board. Registration of ocean going vessels in Tanzania Mainland is overseen by the Surface and Maritime Transport Regulatory Authority (Sumatra) while in Zanzibar it is supervised by the Zanzibar Maritime Authority (ZMA).

This is after the government in the Isles opted out of the Tanzania Merchant Shipping Act of 2003 and enacted the Zanzibar Maritime Transport Act of 2006 to oversee the industry.

Reports from Greece indicate further that the vessel was ordered to re-route to the port of Heraklion, Cretem where its 29 containers and 11 liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) tanks were thoroughly inspected. According to the ship's bills of lading, the containers on board were loaded in Mersin, Turkey, while the LPG tanks were loaded in Turkish Iskenderum port, the final destination being Djibouti and Oman.

After the entire cargo was offloaded, it was established that the containers were loaded with ammonium nitrate, detonators and other explosive materials while the LPG tanks were empty.

The inspection also revealed numerous safety breaches on board, endangering both the crew and the vessel's cargo. Further investigations have determined that the captain of the ship had been instructed by the owner of the vessel to sail to Misrata, Libya, to deliver the entire cargo, according to coast guards who impounded the vessel.

The coast guards added that there were no maps on the ship's log showing Oman or Djibouti.

The ship's cargo was seized and the ship was directed to Heraklion Port, outside the island's capital, where a preliminary review revealed 102 serious violations of the safety code, thereby endangering the lives of the ship's crew.

The crew of the ship has been arrested and is expected to appear before the public prosecutor of Piraeus. "The materials were headed to Libya," Rear Admiral Ioannis Argiriou told reporters.

He said the material could be used "for all sorts of work, from work in quarries to making bombs, and acts of terrorism".


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