Inland Waters Shipping Act
- Commenced on 1 April 1996
- [This is the version of this document at 31 December 2014.]
- [Note: This version of the Act was revised and consolidated in the Fifth Revised Edition of the Laws of Malawi (L.R.O. 1/2018), by the Solicitor General and Secretary for Justice under the authority of the Revision of the Laws Act.]
Part I – Preliminary
1. Short titleThis Act may be cited as the Inland Waters Shipping Act.
2. InterpretationIn this Act, unless the context otherwise requires—"authorized officer" means the Chief Surveyor or any person authorized to act as such;"board of examiners" means board of examiners appointed under section 66;"boat examiner" means a boat examiner appointed under Part VI;"cargo vessel" means a vessel which is not a passenger vessel;"carrier" means a person by or on behalf of whom a contract of carriage has been concluded, whether the carriage is actually performed by him or by a performing carrier;"clearance" means permission for a vessel to set sail or leave port;"certificate of competency" means a certificate issued to a certificated officer under Part VII;"certificate of registration" in relation to a vessel, means the certificate of registration issued under section 14;"certificated officer" means a member of the crew to whom a certificate of competency is issued under Part VII;"Continuous Discharge Book" means a seaman’s record book of service issued by the maritime authorities of Malawi or of any country bordering the inland waters;"contracting country" means any foreign country to which any maritime convention mentioned herein applies;"Court of investigation" means the court of investigation appointed under section 180;"Crew" means any person employed to work on board a vessel on a voyage including an apprentice but excluding a fisherman or any person employed solely in a port or a pilot;"delivery account" means an account of the personal effect and wages of a seaman who is left behind;"dangerous goods" has the meaning assigned to it in section 145;"distressed seaman" means a seaman or apprentice found in distress by reason of having been shipwrecked, discharged or left behind in a port other than his proper return port;"existing vessel" means a vessel other than a new vessel;"equipment" in relation to a vessel includes boats, tackle, pumps, apparel, furniture, life saving appliances of every description, spares, masts, rigging and sails, fog signals, lights, shapes and signals of distress, medicines and medical and surgical stores and appliances, charts, radio installations, appliances for preventing, detecting or extinguishing fires, buckets, compasses, axes, lanterns, loading and discharging gears and appliances belonging to or used in connexion with or necessary for the navigation and safety of the vessel;"fishing vessel" means a vessel, irrespective of the method used, which is for the time-being employed in fishing for the purpose of sale or trade and which does not carry passengers or goods other than in connexion with such employment;"grain" means wheat, oats, rye, barley, rice, pulses or seeds, maize, millet, sorghum;"freeboard" means the distance measured vertically downwards, amidships, from the upper edge of the deck line to the upper edge of the related load line;"GRT" means gross registered tonnage;"harbour" means a place or area designated as harbour by the Minister under section 203;"hire or reward" in relation to the use of any vessel, means the use of such vessel in inland waters in return for payment or material advantage on one or more occasions whether or not the vessel is used without the services of a master or crew;"home port" means the port of registration of the vessel or the place at which a vessel is habitually kept when not on voyage;"inland waters" means such waters as may be declared to be inland waters under section 42;"inspection certificate" means an inspection certificate issued under section 59;"liability" in relation to a vessel owner, includes liability of the vessel itself;"licence" means a licence issued under section 30;"load line certificate" means an international load line certificate or local load line certificate issued under section 86 or in the case of a foreign vessel, an international load line certificate issued by a contracting country;"load line convention", where applicable, means the International Convention on Load Lines, 1966 and includes any amendments thereto;"load line convention vessel" means a vessel belonging to a contracting country to the Load Line Convention;"load line vessel" has the same meaning assigned to it under section 84;"local safety certificate" means a certificate issued under section 60;"Malawi vessel" means any vessel registered in Malawi under this Act;"master" means the person having command or in charge of the vessel;"navigation mark" means a lighthouse, beacon, busy traffic separation scheme mark, ships routing mark and any marks used for navigation;"near shore limits" means the limits of the inland waters of Malawi, that is to say ten nautical miles from the nearest baseline from which the territorial waters of Malawi is established in accordance with the bilateral or multilateral agreement;"new vessel" means a vessel the keel of which is laid, or is at an equivalent stage of production, after the commencement of this Act;"official log-book" means the official log-book required to be kept under section 126;"owner", in relation to a vessel, includes the owner’s agent in the case of a vessel which is the subject of charter, hire-purchase agreement, the person in possession of the vessel in terms of that agreement;"passenger", in relation to a vessel, means any other person other than the master and the crew, a person employed or engaged in any capacity on board the vessel on the business of the vessel, and a child under the age of one (1) year;"passenger vessel" means a vessel carrying more than 12 passengers;"proper return port", in relation to a seaman, means a port in Malawi or in the country to which he belongs; or the port at which he was embarked; or in the case of a discharged seaman, the port agreed upon at the time of his discharge;"medical practitioner" has the meaning assigned thereto in the Medical Practitioners and Dentists Act;[Cap. 36:01]"receiver" means the receiver of wrecks appointed under section 153;"registrar of vessels" means the registrar of vessels appointed by the Minister under section 11;"retention account" means the account of the expenses incurred by the owner or master of a vessel by reason of the absence without leave of a seaman from the vessel;"safety convention", where applicable, means any International Convention relating to safety of life at sea to which Malawi is a party;"safety convention certificate" means any certificate issued to a vessel which complies with any safety convention to which Malawi is a party;"safety convention vessel" means a vessel registered in a country to which the Safety Convention applies;"sailing vessel" means any description of vessel provided with sufficient sail area for navigation under sails alone, whether or not fitted with mechanical means of propulsion;"seaman" includes an apprentice but excludes a person engaged solely for fishing purposes;"Surveyor" means any person appointed under section 10 (2);"surveyor’s certificate" means a certificate issued by a surveyor under section 10;"tanker" means a cargo vessel constructed or adopted for the carriage in bulk of liquid cargoes of an inflammable nature;"ton" means the unit of measurement of the tonnage of a vessel ascertained in the manner prescribed;"tropical storm" means a hurricane, typhoon, cyclone, tornado or other storm of similar nature;"wages" include emoluments;"wreck" includes goods which have been cast into inland waters and then sink and remain under water; goods which have been cast or fall into the inland waters and remain floating on the surface; goods which are sunk in inland waters, but are attached to a floating object in order that they may be found again; goods which are thrown away or abandoned; and, a vessel abandoned without hope or intention of recovery, when found in inland waters or in tidal water or on shores thereof;"vessel" means a ship, drilling rig, production platform, sea plane and includes any vessel, lighter, tug, barge, structure or launch, however propelled, used or intended for use in navigation or mining;"young person" has the meaning assigned thereto in the Children and Young Persons Act.[Cap. 26:03]
3. Application of the Act
Part II – Survey and registration
4. Application of Part II
5. Obligation to registerNo person shall use or permit to be used on inland waters a vessel to which the provisions of this Part apply unless—
6. Application for registration
7. Declaration of ownership
8. First registration
9. Marking of vessels
10. Survey of vessels
11. Register of vessels
12. Port of registration
13. Liability of registered ownersWhere two or more persons are registered as owners of a vessel, each of them shall be jointly and severally responsible for any liability incurred in respect of the vessel under this Act.
14. Issue of certificate of registration
15. Custody of certificate of registration
16. Lost certificate of registration
17. Surrender of certificate of registration
18. Duration and renewal of certificate of registration
19. Wrecked and abandoned vessels
20. Amendments in certificate of registration and register
21. Re-registration of wrecked or abandoned vesselWhere a vessel has been wrecked or abandoned, the registrar may, on application by the owner of the vessel, register the vessel if he is satisfied that the vessel has been surveyed by a surveyor and certified by him to be seaworthy.
22. Masters and crews of vesselsThe Minister may prescribe classes of vessels described by tonnage, dimension or, either additionally or alternatively, the purpose for which they are used, which shall not be used upon inland waters unless under the command or in the charge of a competent master and may prescribe the numbers and standards of competency of persons to be carried as crew in a vessel of any such class.
Part III – Mortgages, alterations and transmissions
23. Transfer of vessels
24. Registration of transferEvery instrument witnessing the transfer of a vessel shall, within twenty-one days of the transfer, be produced to the Chief Surveyor together with the declaration required under section 7 and the registrar—
25. Transmission of vessel
26. Mortgage of vesselA vessel may be given in mortgage as provided by the law for the time being governing mortgages and liens in Malawi.
27. Alterations to vessel
28. Registration of alteration
29. Provisional endorsement of alterations
Part IV – Licensing arrangements
30. Licensing authorityA licensing authority for the purposes of this Act shall be such public officer or public officers as the Minister may, by notice published in the Gazette, appoint.
31. Licensing of vessels used for water transport
32. Using vessels in contravention of Section 31Any person who uses a vessel in contravention of section 31 shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine of K500.
33. Duration of licence
34. Licence not transferableNo licence shall be transferable except with the written consent of the licensing authority endorsed on such licence.
35. Form of licenceA licence shall be in such form as may be prescribed and a separate licence shall be issued in respect of each vessel.
36. Procedure for application for licenceEvery person applying for a licence to use any vessel for the carnage of passengers or goods shall submit in writing to the licensing authority indicating—
37. Objection to application for licence
38. Discretion of the licensing authority to grant or refuse licences
39. Condition of licences
40. Power to revoke or suspend licences
41. Provision for appeals in connexion with licencesAny person who—
Part V – Bilateral and multilateral arrangements
42. Declaration of inland watersThe Minister may, by notice published in the Gazette—
43. Agreements with other countries
44. Existing treaty obligations paramountWhere the Minister is satisfied that the enforcement of any provision of this Act in regard to vessels of any country would be inconsistent with the obligations of the Government of Malawi under any treaty, convention or agreement entered into with that country, the Minister may, by order published in the Gazette, suspend the operation of that provision with regard to vessels of that country so far as he may deem necessary to enable the aforementioned obligations to be fulfilled.
Part VI – Surveys and inspections
45. Regulations to implement safety conventionsThe Minister may make such regulations as he may think fit to give effect to any International Convention on Safety or Tonnage to which Malawi is a party.
46. Surveys and inspections
47. Purposes of surveys and inspectionsA survey or inspection shall be in respect of any or all of the following matters—
48. Powers of surveyors and boat examiners
49. Records of surveyors and boat examinersA surveyor or boat examiner or authorized officer shall keep, in such form as the Chief Surveyor may direct, a record of every inspection he makes.
50. Survey of passenger vesselsEvery passenger vessel shall be surveyed—
51. Initial survey
52. Periodic survey
53. Additional survey
54. Cargo vessels and fishing vessels
55. Life-saving and fire fighting appliances
56. Radio installationThe radio installation, in a cargo vessel or fishing vessel and any radio-telegraph installation in a motor lifeboat or any portable radio apparatus for survival craft that are carried in compliance with the requirements of any International Safety Conventions to which Malawi is a party or regulations made under this Act shall be surveyed at intervals of not more than one year.
57. Passenger vessels, pleasure crafts and oil tankers
58. Survey reports to the chief surveyorAfter every survey the surveyor or boat examiner or other authorized officer shall send, or cause to be sent, a report of the survey to the Chief Surveyor.
59. Inspection certificateWhere, in relation to a vessel being—
60. Safety certificatesThe Minister may make, regulations prescribing safety requirements and providing for the issue of local safety certificates in respect of—
61. Posting of certificateOn receipt of an inspection certificate or local certificate or convention certificate, the owner or master of the vessel in respect of which the certificate is issued shall cause the certificate to be posted up in some conspicuous place on board the vessel for the information of all on board.
62. Alteration to vesselAn owner or master of the vessel in respect of which an inspection certificate or a local safety certificate or a safety convention certificate, has been issued who, without reasonable cause does or suffers to be done anything to the vessel whereby the certificate becomes inapplicable to the vessel or to other matters to which the certificate relates shall commit an offence.
63. Foreign safety convention certificates
64. Certification of foreign vesselsThe Minister may, at the request of the government of a country to which any International Safety Conventions apply, cause any certificate provided for by the said International Safety Conventions to which Malawi is a party to be issued in respect of a vessel of that country, if he is satisfied that the certificate can properly be issued.
Part VII – Manning levels
65. Regulations for grant of certificates of competency and certificated officersThe Minister may make regulations for—
66. Board of examiners and foreign certificates
67. Loss of certificatesWhere the certificated officer satisfies the Chief Surveyor that he has lost a certificate of competency or a licence issued to him under this Act, the Chief Surveyor may, on payment of the prescribed fee, deliver a certified copy of the certificate or the licence to him.
68. Production of certificates
69. Records of certificates and licencesThe Chief Surveyor shall keep the register in which shall be recorded all matters relating to certificates of competency and licence, including their issue, cancellation, suspension or amendment.
70. Notification of engagement
71. Sailing undermanned
72. Contracts of apprenticeship
Part VIII – Safety provisions
73. Manning to ensure safetyEvery vessel shall be manned with a crew both sufficient and efficient to ensure safety of life for the purpose of any intended voyage and shall be kept so manned.
74. Vessel’s stability
75. Signalling lamp
76. Hazards to navigation
77. Assistance in distress
78. Giving helm ordersNo person in a vessel shall, when the vessel is going ahead—
79. Collision regulations
80. Presumption of faultWhere any damage to property arises from the non-observance of the collision regulations, the damage shall be presumed to have been caused by the wilful default of the person in charge of the vessel, seaplane or other craft not observing the collision regulations.
81. Assistance in collision
82. Reporting of accidents
Division B—Load lines
83. Load line regulationsThe Minister may, by regulations published in the Gazette, in this Act referred to as "Load Line Regulations", make such provision as he sees fit to give effect to the Load Line Convention and, in particular to provide for—
84. Load line vessels
85. Compliance with regulationsThe master of a load line vessel shall not take the vessel on Malawi inland waters unless—
86. Load line certificate
87. Renewal of load line certificate
88. Cancellation or suspension of load line certificate
89. Surrender of load line certificate
90. Vessel without load line certificate
91. Display of load line certificate and entries
92. Load line certificate of foreign vesselThe Minister may, at the request of the Government of a contracting country, cause an appropriate load line certificate to be issued in respect of a vessel registered in that country, where he is satisfied that the certificate may properly be issued.
93. Inspection of foreign vessel
Part IX – The crew
Division A—Contents of agreement
94. Crew agreement
95. Contents of crew agreement
96. Posting of specimen agreementThe master of a vessel shall, at the commencement of every voyage, post up a legible specimen of the crew agreement in some part of the ship that is accessible to the crew.
97. Employment of young personsNo young person shall—
98. Continuous Discharge Book
99. Character reportWhere a seaman is discharged from a vessel, the owner of the vessel may make, sign and deliver to the seaman a character report in which the master shall report on the conduct, character and qualifications of the seaman.
100. Time and manner of payment
101. Account of wages
103. Settlement of wages
104. Rate of exchangeWhere a seaman has agreed with the owner of a vessel for payment of his wages in a specific currency, any payment of or on account of his wages if made in any currency other than that stated in the agreement, shall be made at the official rate of exchange for the currency at the place where, and on the day on which, the payment is made.
105. Payment in advanceA crew agreement may contain a stipulation for payment in advance, to or on behalf of a seaman conditionally on his commencement of work in pursuance of the agreement, of a sum not exceeding the equivalent of two weeks’ wages payable to the seaman under the agreement.
106. Allotment of wages
107. Right to wages and provisionsA seaman’s right to wages and provisions shall begin at—
108. Abandonment of wages and salvageAny agreement whereby a seaman—
109. Premature termination of service
110. Wages during sickness
111. Wages on improper dischargeWhere a seaman who has signed an agreement is discharged otherwise than in accordance with the terms of the agreement—
112. Annual leave
113. Custody of property of deceased seaman
114. Delivery of property of deceased seaman
115. Complaints as to provisions
116. Allowance for provisionsWhere during the voyage of a vessel the allowance for provisions supplied to a seaman is deficient in quantity or any of those provisions are substandard, the seaman shall receive by way of compensation for the deficiency for so long as it lasts, an amount of money to be determined by the Chief Surveyor.
117. Weights and measuresThe master of a vessel in which provisions are supplied to the crew shall keep on board proper weights and measures for determining the quantities of the several provisions supplied.
118. Qualified cookEvery vessel of 50 GRT or more shall, where passengers and crew are provided with food, carry a qualified crew cook and a qualified passenger cook.
119. Medical requisities
120. Expenses for medical treatment or burial
121. Medical personnel
122. Facilities for complaintsWhere a seaman while on board a vessel informs the master of the vessel that he wishes to make a complaint to an authorized person against the master of the vessel or any other member of the crew, the master shall, as soon as the service of the vessel permits, allow the complainant to go ashore to make his complaint.
123. Disciplinary proceedings
124. Review by MinisterWhere a certificate of competency or licence has been cancelled or suspended under section 123 the Minister may, in a fit and proper case—
125. Misconduct endangering vessel or lifeA member of the crew of a vessel, who, by wilful breach of duty or by reason of drunkenness—
126. Official log-book to be kept and delivered
127. Particulars of entryThe master of every vessel shall enter or cause to be entered in the official log-book particulars therein—
128. Breaches respecting official log-book
Division D—Relief and repatriation
129. Return on loss or abandonment of vesselWhere a vessel is lost or abandoned the owner or master of the vessel shall deliver to the Chief Surveyor the list of persons on board at the time of loss or abandonment.
130. Documents to be handed over
131. Birth and death on board
132. Application of Sections 132 to 134Sections sections 132 to sections 134 shall apply to every vessel which engages a seaman in Malawi.
133. Repatriation of seamen
134. Defaulting seamen not entitled to be returnedA seaman who has been left behind or discharged from his vessel as a result of his—
135. Security by owner or masterWhere a seaman is to be left behind or discharged from the vessel at a port other than his port of engagement, an authorized officer may demand from the owner of the vessel adequate security or guarantee for the repatriation of the seaman to a proper return port.
136. Effects and wages of seaman left behind
137. Exemption from liabilityThe master of a vessel shall not be liable for any loss or damage to the personal effects of a seaman left behind or discharged at a port other than his proper return port, where the loss or damage occurred without fault on his part.
138. Return from service
139. Discharge on change of ownership
140. Relief of distressed seamen
141. Forcing ashoreAny master or member of the crew of a vessel who wrongfully forces a seaman ashore and leaves him behind, or otherwise causes a seaman to be wrongfully left behind at any place, shall commit an offence.
142. Return of seamenWhere any question arises as to what return port a seaman is to be returned, the question may be referred to an authorized officer and his decision thereon shall bind both the master of the vessel and the seaman.
Part X – Dangerous goods and unseaworth vessels
Division A—Grain and deck cargo
143. Carriage of grain
144. Deck cargoThe Minister may make regulations prescribing the requirements to be complied with when cargo is carried in any uncovered space on the deck of a load line vessel.
Division B—Dangerous goods
145. Meaning of "dangerous goods"In this Part—"dangerous goods", in respect of any vessel means—
146. Carriage of dangerous goods
147. Inspection or refusal to take dangerous goodsThe owner or master of any vessel may require any package or parcel intended to be shipped to be opened to ascertain it’s nature or he may refuse to take on board any package or parcel which he suspects might contain any dangerous goods.
148. Disposal of dangerous goods
149. Regulations on dangerous goodsThe Minister may, by notice published in the Gazette, make regulations regarding the carriage of dangerous goods in vessels.
Division C— Seaworthiness
150. Sending unseaworthy vessel on inland waterways
151. Duty to ensure seaworthinessNotwithstanding any agreement to the contrary, it shall be an implied term of every contract of service between the owner of the vessel and any seaman thereof, and of every instrument of apprenticeship whereby any person is bound to serve as an apprentice on board any vessel, that—
152. Detention of unseaworthy vessel
Part XI – Wrecks and salvage
Division A— Wrecks
153. Appointment of receiver
154. Duty to attend vessels in distress
155. Power to require assistance
156. Power to pass over adjoining lands
157. Power to examine persons
158. Taking possession of wreck
159. Concealing of wreck
160. Notice of wreck
161. Owner’s right to wreck
162. Sale of wreck
163. Unauthorized sale of wreck
164. Boarding wrecked vessel
165. Interference with wreck
166. Unclaimed wreckWhere no person establishes a claim as owner of any wreck m. the possession, of the Receiver within six months after it comes into the Receiver s possession, the Receiver shall sell or cause to be sold the wreck and pay the proceeds into the Consolidated Fund, after deducting—
167. Discharge of receiverOn delivery of wreck or payment of the sale of wreck by the Receiver in pursuance of this Part, the Receiver shall be discharged from all liability in respect of the wreck.
168. Obstruction to navigation
169. Obstruction in port
170. Salvage of life
171. Salvage of cargoWhere any vessel is wrecked, stranded, run aground or in distress at any place in, or near the inland waters limits of Malawi and services are rendered—
172. Non-entitlement to salvageNothing in section 170 shall entitle any person to salvage or to a refund of expenses—
173. Salvage where vessels belong to same ownerWhere services are rendered—
174. Determination of disputes and valuation
175. Detention of salvaged propertyWhere a salvor is entitled to salvage or to a refund of expenses properly incurred by him, the Receiver may—
176. Sale of detained property
177. Priority of claimsAny claim by a salvor in respect of the salvage of life under section 170 shall be payable in priority to any other claim for salvage.
Part XII – Inquiries and legal process
178. Shipping casualtiesFor the purpose of an inquiry or investigation under this Part, a shipping casualty shall be deemed to occur—
179. Preliminary inquiries
180. Court of investigation
181. Inquiry into deaths of crews
182. Inquiry into deaths of passengersWhere a death of a passenger occurs on board a Malawi registered vessel or on board any foreign vessel whose next port of call is in Malawi, the provisions of section 181 shall apply.
183. Loss of or damage to luggageWhere loss of or damage to luggage is deemed to have occurred, the owner of the luggage shall notify the carrier for compensation.
Division B— Offences and penalties
184. Setting sail with officersWhere a vessel sets sail when any person empowered to detain the vessel or an inspector, surveyor or police officer is on board the vessel in the execution of his duties, the owner and the master of the ship shall each commit an offence and shall, on conviction be liable, in addition to any penally prowdcdundcr sccfiou 189 m a fine equivalent to the aggregate of the expenses of and incidental to the person, inspector, surveyor or police officer taken aboard, as the case may be, for his return.
185. Throwing of person overboardAny person who throws or causes to be thrown overboard any other person shall commit an offence.
186. Marking of heavy packageNo person shall, in Malawi, consign tube loaded on any vessel or no owner or master of any vessel shall, in Malawi cause or permit to be loaded on the vessel, any package or object the weight of which exceeds three thousand kilogrammes without causing its approximate weight to be clearly and durably marked on the outside of the package or object.
187. Unauthorized presence on boardAny person other, than, the Chief Surveyor or any person authorized under this Act or any other written law who, without reasonable cause—
188. Offences by seamen
Division C—Arrests and trials
191. Admissibility of copies of documents
192. Detention of foreign vessels
193. Enforcement of detention
194. Arrest without warrant
195. Master’s power of arrest
196. Offence on board a vesselWhere any person—
197. Venue of trial and jurisdictionNotwithstanding any other written law, where any person is charged with an offence which under this Act is triable in Malawi, the offender shall, unless the Director of Public Prosecutions directs otherwise, be tried in Magistrate’s Court and the court may impose on the offender any penalty provided under this Act.
198. Recovery of fines and judgement debtsWithout prejudice to any written law relating to the recovery of fines or of judgment debts—
199. Service of documentsWhere for the purpose of this Act any document is to be served on any person, the document may be served—
Part XIII – Miscellaneous
200. Protection of officersAny person who acts in the performance of his duties under this Act shall be deemed to be—
201. Return of seaman left behindWhere any foreign vessel sets sail and leaves behind a seaman who is not a Malawi citizen, the expenses incurred for the repatriation or deportation of the seaman shall be recovered from the owner of the vessel, or where the owner is not in Malawi from the agent of the owner of the vessel.
202. Port clearances
204. Application of labour legislation
205. Arrest and seizureA police officer having reasonable grounds for believing that any person has committed an offence against this Act and that such person will not attend the court in answer to any process which may be issued against him may arrest such person without a warrant, and may seize any vessel or object which may afford evidence of the commission of the offence.
206. Duty to give information
207. Damage to navigation marks
208. Certain provisions as to legal proceedings
209. National colours and ensign
210. Offences and penalties
Part XIV – Repeal and savings
211. Repeal and savings
History of this document
01 April 1996