Access to inland waterways simplified

27 Мар

В последнее время облегчен доступ судов под иностранными флагами во внутренние воды Украины, в частности, в речные порты.

Особое внимание автор статьи уделяет новеллам в правовом регулировании отношений по поводу захода судов под флагами государств, с которыми не заключены международные договоры о судоходстве на внутренних водных путях, в особенности, пассажирских, спортив­ных, парусных судов и яхт.

A new regulation has amended the procedure for the granting of temporary one-time permission to enter the river ports of Ukraine for merchant vessels flying the flags of states that are not parties to bilateral treaties on the navigation of inland waterways. Exceptions are now explicitly made for passenger vessels, pleasure boats, sailing ships and yachts, which will not require such permission to enter river ports.

In Ukraine the infrastructure of cargo and passenger terminals is not limited to the 18 commercial sea ports (eg, Odessa, Sevastopol, Nikolaev and Kerch). Along with these, a number of river ports operate on the inland waterways of Ukraine (eg, Kiev, Dnepropetrovsk and Zaporozhye). River terminals, the majority of which are privately owned, are a sound alternative to state-owned sea ports for cargo owners and shipowners. Additionally, river ports provide an opportunity for smaller vessels to avoid transshipment to sea ports with further road or rail transportation, thus saving costs for the shippers. River port facilities also allow foreign yachts and pleasure boats to explore the most important Ukrainian river, the Dnieper.

Free entry into Ukrainian river ports has traditionally been allowed for cargo vessels flying the flag of a state that is a party to a respective bilateral intergovernmental treaty on navigation of inland waterways. Nevertheless, only a few such agreements have been concluded to date between Ukraine and countries in inland Europe.

By contrast, vessels flying the flag of a state that is not party to a bilateral treaty on navigation of inland waterways were obliged to follow the procedure for obtaining special one-time permission to do so from Ukrainian transport authorities. Until recently, this procedure was governed by a regulation enacted in 1998. This regulation had weak points – particularly, it did not specifically cover the entry of passenger vessels, pleasure boats and sailing yachts into river ports, leaving undefined their legal status on inland waterways.

The necessity to align the regulation with the legislation in force emerged following the latest amendments to the laws (particularly regarding the simplification of access of foreign passenger vessels, pleasure boats and sailing yachts to the market of passenger transportation on inland waterways). The new regulation is intended to attract passengers to the river ports of Ukraine, stimulating the tourist segment of the river transportation market.

In accordance with the formal procedure stipulated in the new regulation, when a cargo vessel (under the flag of a state that is not party to a bilateral treaty) is intended to call at a Ukrainian river port, the administration of the flag state, the shipowner or its representative (eg, a ship agent in Ukraine) must – no later than 10 days before the estimated arrival of the ship – apply to the State Inspection of Ukraine on Safety at Sea and River Transport.

Having registered the application, the inspection will publish on its website the formal announcement regarding the scheduled shipment of export cargo. If none of the national carriers apply to the inspection within three days of the announcement’s publication with a declaration of their availability to transport the export cargo, the inspection will issue special one-time permission for the foreign ship in question. If an appeal is filed (which in practice is rare), the inspection will inform the foreign shipowner or its representative, advising them to conduct negotiations with the national carrier. The inspection will grant or refuse permission subject to the result of such negotiations.

Passenger vessels, pleasure boats, sport and sailing yachts are now explicitly exempted from the requirement to obtain permission to enter river ports.

Автор: Andrey Perepelitsa (Interlegal)