22 November 2010
South Africa has boosted its sea and air search and rescue capabilities by signing agreements with Zimbabwe, Mauritius and Uruguay that will make it easier for the four to countries to carry out their rescue missions while being able to rely on one another’s support.
Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele said the agreements, signed in Pretoria on Friday, 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 has identified 14 countries in its search and rescue region with which to partner. To date, seven agreements have been signed, while four agreements have been concluded and are ready for signature. One has been negotiated and two are still to be negotiated.
Ndebele 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.
Common search and rescue procedures
As part of the agreement, common search and rescue procedures will be developed, resources will be pooled and mutual visits will be undertaken. It will also facilitate the easy entry of search and rescue units into each other’s territories.
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.