Categorized | National News

Grand Bahama Ports In Limbo Without Pilots’ Deal

The deadline has arrived and no deal has been reached between marine pilots and executives of the Freeport Harbour Company (FHC) and The Bahamas Oil Refining Company (BORCO) that would prevent a disruption to services at Grand Bahama’s harbours.

The pilots attached to The Bahamas Marine Pilots Association (BMPA) submitted their resignations last month amid concerns of safety at the harbour and their desire to operate independently – something they argue that is an international standard.

The pilots have offered to provide their services to the companies through a private pilotage company.

However, both FHC and BORCO have countered that they adhere to international safety guidelines and boast of their long-standing records in Grand Bahama.

The Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA) has also called the pilots’ claims baseless.

The pilots’ resignations take effect today.

The parties have been engaged in meetings with Labour Minister Shane Gibson, but there has still been no deal reached.

The GBPA in a statement yesterday, reaffirmed its commitment to ensuring the safety of the people and facilities of the harbour.

GBPA President Ian Rolle refuted claims by BMPA Managing Director Erin Ferguson who accused the Port Authority of trying to block the pilots bid to form a private company.

“The Licencing and Inspection departments of the GBPA treat all of their responsibilities in processing licence applications in an impartial manner, despite allegations made by BMPA Managing Director Erin Ferguson,” the statement said.

“Licencing requirements and processes are not always straightforward; particularly when the licences concern matters that can impact national security, safety, international relations and key parts of our local and national economies. GBPA treats such licences with the utmost care and attention, consistent with its mandate under the Hawksbill Creek Agreement.”

Meanwhile, both BORCO and FHC have maintained that they have contingency plans in place and expect that their operations will only be minimally impacted.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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