Wed, 29 Nov 2000

Indonesia enters 'white list' on SCTW standards

JAKARTA (JP): Indonesia has obtained recognition from the International Maritime Organization (IMO) for its compliance with the international convention on Standards of Training Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW).

Minister of Transportation and Telecommunications Agum Gumelar said here on Tuesday the recognition, given during IMO's Maritime Safety Committee Meeting on Monday in London, would secure the jobs of some 20,000 Indonesian sailors working on foreign ships.

"When a country is put on the white list, all certification for sailors issued by the government is accepted by the international community," he said during a media conference here.

Sailors working on foreign ships, about half of all Indonesian sailors, had been threatened with the loss of their jobs in 2001 because their skills were considered to be below the STCW standard.

The convention, issued in 1978 and amended in 1995, is meant to ensure sailors are properly educated and trained in the use of navigation aids and onboard equipment and devices, and that their knowledge is kept satisfactorily up-to-date.

The STCW convention was issued by IMO, the United Nations agency responsible for improving maritime safety and preventing pollution from ships. It was ratified by Indonesia through a presidential decree issued on Dec. 4, 1986.

Besides the loss of jobs, if Indonesia failed to be included on IMO's white list, Indonesian shipping companies would have had to hire foreign nationals to man their fleets, Agum said.

"This would of course add to the cost of their operations, so they (shipping companies) are relieved by this," he said.

Agum said the recognition was achieved through the government's efforts to comply with STCW requirements, including presenting an initial report on the steps the government has taken to ensure compliance with the STCW to the IMO secretary- general.

The government also invited IMO experts to assess and give suggestions for the improvement of the examination system for certification, he said.

Also, foreign investors were given permission to work at private maritime education institutions and a program was prepared to improve the maritime educational, training, certification system, facilities and infrastructure, Agum said.

Through the Indonesian Embassy in Britain, the government also asked the British government to support Indonesia in the IMO meetings, Agum said.

"We also approached countries like Singapore, Australia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, China, South Korea, Malaysia, Japan, the Netherlands, Canada and the United States for supports," he said.

Agum said the government established a Maritime Examination and Certification Body in 1998 as part of the IMO's requirements.

The body has so far given approval to six state maritime training centers and will develop private training centers to meet STCW standards, he said. (tnt)