“MV Spice Islander” had a maximum human load capacity of 600 passengers. However, at the time of its sinking, it was carrying 2470 passengers–four times the maximum. According to released reports, 941 passengers survived, 203 passengers lost their lives and 1326 passengers are still missing. I’m baffled by the magnitude of the death.
The cause of the accident was “severe levels of negligence” and 9 people have been arraigned. The report has recommended the dead and survivors to be compensated at a rate of Tshs 125,000 for 80 months which is equivalent to Tshs 10,000,000 per person.
The suggested figure is what I have issues with. I feel like the figures are too low and will not work as a deterrent for future man-made accidents. I understand that human life is priceless. My questions are: Why payments are based on the basic salary levels? What made the commission to assume that all these people were going to die in the next 6 years and a half (80 months)? Why not use established income earning potentials for each of the passengers and life expectancy figures to figure out the payment?
I see this was an opportunity to severely punish those involved so that it will be a lesson for others benefiting from this kind of behavior. Don’t let this incident be another missed opportunity like MV Bukoba. This should be a wake up call to ship owners, bus owners, and everyone involved in the transportation business. They needs to understand that “if you cause an accident due to negligence” leading to a loss or loss of lives; severe consequences will follow. The “kazi ya mungu” excuse should not be left to be the norm any-longer.
Once a person purchase a ticket, it’s a contractual agreement between the two parties and that the latter will transport the former safely from point A to point B. These contracts need to be honored. Maybe in the future (“that means now”) the government could implement a system that forces bus, ship and any kind of transportation business owners to declare the insurance value of a passenger and luggage on the back of the ticket in case an accident happens.
My belief is that if the owners are subjected to stiff penalties whenever accidents happens and are starting to see that their profits are being eroded; they will make sure that accidents due to negligence will not be a daily occurrences in Tanzania. To make them change their minds and put safety measures before profit, you have to hit them where it matters most—profits.