Tanzania halts registration of foreign ships after cargo controversies

The government of Tanzania has temporarily halted the registration of foreign ships. The decision followed the recent seizure of five Tanzanian-flagged ships that were carrying illegal cargo. President John Magufuli also ordered local authorities to investigate the registration of 470 ships currently carrying the Tanzanian flag on international waters.

The trigger for President Magufuli appears to have been the incident on January 7th when Greek authorities intercepted Tanzanian-flagged ship cargo ship Andromeda (IMO 7614666) near Crete on its way to Libya, carrying among its cargo materials, 29 containers that contained goods that could be used to make explosives. Libya has been subject to a UN arms embargo since 2011. A representative of Andromeda Shipmanagement SA, which owns the vessel, said on January 11th that there was nothing illegal about the shipment. The vessel had paused off Crete en route to Libya, but captain Theodoros Rellos said that the ship should not have been seized and that the eight crew should not have been taken into custody and then arraigned before a Piraeus court.

A few weeks earlier Dutch naval forces intercepted a Tanzania-flagged merchant vessel in the Caribbean that was carrying 1,600 kilos of cocaine.

Tanzania is also one of the seven countries being investigated by the UN for allegedly violating an arms embargo against North Korea. The US has put pressure on Tanzania and four other African countries to stop allowing North Korean ships to fly under their flags.

Foreign ships are regularly registered by the Tanzania Zanzibar International Register of Shipping in Zanzibar, which maintains a semi-autonomous status within the Tanzanian federation.