Ship owners have requested the government to provide guidance on the number of children that a single passenger should have onboard as they complained of increasing numbers of child travellers between Unguja and Pemba.

This comes as there have been concerns on the safety of the children on ships and boats as individual passengers have been travelling with more than six children who are forced to sit on the boat floors due to limited number of passenger seats.

Currently, children under the age of six years travel free of charge while those who have yet to reach 12 years pay half the adult fare whereby minimum third class tickets to Unguja and Pemba are sold at Sh20, 000 to Sh26, 000.

Speaking during a stakeholders meeting with the Zanzibar’s minister of Transport, Ms Rahma Kassim Ali, the director of Ikraam Sealine, Mr Abdulghafour Ismail, said because children below 12 years do not pay, passengers have been travelling with many of them without considering the safety issue. “It has been a challenge for us, because we also do not have the mandate to restrict the number of children a passenger can travel with,” he said.

Azam Marine manager Ally Mohamed Abeid said it was important for the government to come up with passenger’s guidelines, which would specify the number of children for the passengers.

“For example, recently we had a boat with 580 passengers and 214 children, I think when we start charging them the number of children will drop,” he said.

In the end, the minister advised that she would discuss the concerns with the respective authorities before providing a sustainable solution. Minister Ali said: “These legal issues have their structured procedure that need to be followed and solutions cannot be provided abruptly, thus after proper discussions the challenges would be addressed.”

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