Muscat: Incidents of collision between ferries that transport passengers to and from Masirah Island have caused anxiety among residents and tourists in Masirah.
Such is the anxiety among the residents of Masirah Island that they seem to be always fearing the next disaster to happen. The frequent collisions seem tied to the minimum safety standards that the ferries maintain.
In 2012, 17 collisions were registered, resulting in light to serious injuries to passengers and substantial damages to the vessels, according to reports.
Just two weeks ago, a collision between two vessels was reported, albeit without any causalities.
Further, most of these vessels are owned by affluent nationals, residents told Times of Oman.
It's the same story at Shanna Port in the wilayat of Mahoot, a facility built by the Transport and Communications Ministry at a cost of OMR9.7 million, linking Masirah Island with other wilayats of the Sultanate.
Ships leaving from Shanna Port transport citizens, visitors, goods, and vehicles passing between the wilayat of Mahout and the wilayat of Masirah.
The port consists of 1,170 metres of docks, 370 metres of breakwaters and 318 metres of marine docks, in addition to offices, shops, a mosque and an area for car parking — all located besides 2.4-kms of paved road.
On a daily basis, passengers travel on ferries that are very old and lack safety equipment, often endangering the lives of citizens and residents.
Ahmed Al Hrmali, a resident of Shana, told Times of Oman that authorities should urgently deal with these safety issues and stop putting the lives of local residents at risk.
Al Harmali added that the government should also find solutions that would provide new, more comfortable ferries with upgraded safety equipment to the port, instead of allowing unsafe ferries to operate.
Another problem, according to residents, is that it is necessary to drive 'like race course drivers' to obtain a spot for their vehicles on crowded ferries.
Naser Al Muqbali, who works on Masirah Island, said that if a passenger does not find a place for himself and his vehicle on a ferry, he must wait an extra four hours for the next trip to Shana and Masirah.
Meanwhile, citizens hope that their voices would be heard by speaking out and are urging the government to act urgently to save the lives of residents and tourists.