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Talks Ongoing With Marine Pilots And Minister

Talks Ongoing With Marine Pilots And Minister

There has been much constructive dialogue between members of the Bahamas Maritime Pilots Association (BMPA) and Minister of Transport and Aviation, Glenys Hanna-Martin.

The pilots said the dialogue has focused around best practices, International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Standards, insurance requirements, and safety and training guidelines.

A few weeks ago a number of marine pilots submitted their resignation letters to the Freeport Harbour Company and the Bahamas Oil Refinery Company (BORCO) amid claims that conditions at the harbour violate international standards and pose significant danger to their health are renewing those claims and said they should be addressed immediately.

The resignations take effect on Friday.

“Her main point is that she would like to see the maritime sector achieve maritime IMO standards,” BMPA President Kendal Williamson said yesterday.

“You don’t accomplish things overnight. We know the government is diligently working to get things done to achieve that goal so we look forward to the government intervening in the matter. We also have support. Nassau pilots are practicising independent piloting. They don’t have to come in the media and say they support [us].”

Mr. Williamson said the Freeport pilots are now looking to the future.

“We would like return to independent piloting,” he said.

“Now that we are no longer working for BORCO anymore, we will form our own company and contract out our services to people. We are happy that they released us but now that means there will be competitive pilotage. What that simply means now is that the unqualified people that they have hired over the last two weeks will now be piloting ships against us ands so it will be a matter of who gets there first.”

Eleven pilots – five from FHC and six from BORCO have resigned.
FHC has confirmed that it had received and accepted formal resignations of five marine pilots and it assured stakeholders that it had a team of pilots in place to service harbour requirements.
“The Harbour Company has for some time been aware of the intention of some of our pilots and appropriate contingency measures are in place,” the company said in a statement. “This action of our pilots to force the Harbour Company to hand over its investments, legal and rightful business to them will not succeed.”

FHC is privately owned joint venture between the Hutchinson Port Holding and the Grand Bahama Port Authority.

BORCO is a private company owned by Buckeye Partners.

Sasha Lightbourne

Written by Sasha Lightbourne

Journal Staff Writer

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