Safety in the Malacca-Singapore Straits: Aids to Navigation Fund [2008/05/05]
On April 17th, in the Malacca-Singapore Straits, a new initiative known as the Aids to Navigation Fund was established to protect navigational safety in the straits. The fund, which was started with an initial contribution of 1.35 million US dollars from The Nippon Foundation, is the first of its kind in the area. It was finalized at the first Aids to Navigation Fund Committee meeting held between The Nippon Foundation and the three littoral countries (Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore).
This fund enables the littoral countries to maintain and replace 51 major buoys and navigational aids to ensure navigational safety in the straits. While actual work will begin around January 2009, the funds contributed by The Nippon Foundation will be used this summer to survey the current state of the region’s navigational aids. The survey will result in an estimate of the costs involved in maintaining and replacing navigation aids over the next ten years.
The Nippon Foundation also announced plans to contribute one-third of the cost of the fund for the first five years, while encouraging the shipping industry and nations using the straits to make voluntary contributions for the remainder. The foundation expects to establish a well-balanced burden-sharing system based on an international framework.
The foundation chose to contribute to this fund due to the recent increase in risk of maritime accidents in the Malacca-Singapore straits accompanying rising international shipping demand. Some 90,000 vessels passed through the waters in 2004, a figure expected to increase by 50 percent by 2020 to approximately 140,000 vessels. Moreover, the costs of installing and maintaining navigational aids and of building buoy tender vessels have continued to rise, weighing heavily on littoral nations.
The Nippon Foundation intends for the fund to be centered on a framework, whereby not just the littoral countries but nations and shipping firms using the straits shoulder the responsibility for managing them.