New system to help vessels in Malacca strait
Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia are about to launch a newly improved ship management system for the region. The system aims to ensure maritime safety and marine environment protection in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore.
The new system, called the Marine Electronic Highway (MEH), will transmit real-time information to a data center, which is located in Batam in Indonesia’s Riau province.
The center will then send the data to related agencies in Malaysia and Singapore, as well as to vessels passing through the straits.
According to Raja Malik Saripulazan, the director of the MEH demonstration project, the maritime states have developed the system to ensure safety in the area now that the situation in the straits is becoming more dynamic.
“The amount of faster and bigger ships is increasing. There are ships that carry oil and other chemical contents. There’s also the growing interest of cruise ships that carry a large number of people,” he said in Jakarta on Wednesday.
Arief Yuwono, deputy minister at Indonesia’s Environment Ministry, confirmed Saripulazan’s statement.
He said that as many as 200 large crude carriers passed through the straits every day and they risked damaging the marine ecosystem.
Ashok Mahapatra from the International Maritime Organization said that shipmasters would be able to navigate their vessels better using data from the center.
“We send information about the tides, positions of navigation buoys, water levels and many more subjects. They can travel safely and, at the same time, avoid damaging the environment,” Mahapatra
The MEH system is funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), an independent financial organization, which focuses on global environmental issues. The GEF initiated the project in 1996.
Mustapha Benmaamar, a senior transport specialist at The World Bank, a GEF agency, said that the GEF had disbursed about US$8.3 million in grants for the project.
He added that the MEH system would have implications wider than simply the littoral states because many countries used the straits.
He said that if the project was successful, the World Bank would implement it in many other parts of the world, such as the Mediterranean Sea and the China Sea.
“We are moving to the implementation stage. Now we aim to attract users and demonstrate the benefits to them. Hopefully we can make the system available to as many users as possible, so we can sustain the project financially and bring it to another level,” Benmaamar said.
To be able to make use of the system, owners of the vessels do not have to install additional technology.
Mahapatra said that they could use current equipment already in place on board, such as the Electronic Chart Display and Information System and Automated Identification System.
Benmaamar added that it would be helpful if the users could contribute through subscriptions once they valued the project’s benefits. However, he said that they had yet to come up with a subscription fee. (tas)
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