Marad asked to Resuscitate Maritime Security Committee

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COMMENT

For as long as one can remember no major rehabilitation has taken place in the central harbor of Port Georgetown which is the hub of trading activities in the country.  Terminal operators, shipping companies and their agents have been lobbying the Maritime Administration Department for some time in an effort to bring relief for navigators in the Demerara channel.

With a low tide draught of 4.5 metres, vessels are forced to enter or leave with half their full loads which results in less exports and imports and higher freight costs over which operators have no control. It is known that higher costs always trickle down to the end user. The Dredger owned by the Maritime Administration Department, the ‘Steve N’, is approximately 30 years old and has become less productive, struggling to carry out even routine dredging and would definitely not be able to undertake the capital dredging that is needed.

Then there is a Pilot Launch that is incapable of performing under any form of pressure, sometimes not at all. Whenever this Launch breaks down, no pilot can board ocean-going vessels either coming or going which results in costly delays. In fact, some vessel Captains have resorted to taking the chance on their own which is a risky business. As for navigational aids, there is no Buoy Tenders or a Fire Boat in the entire country. Should a fire occur on the river, one can only imagine what the outcome would be.

The Administration receives substantial sums from each vessel coming into the port which should be used to provide maintenance and services for the Harbour. Instead mariners are forced to endure persistently low draught and falling standards. Very often they opt to go into other ports which would lead to the transshipment of cargo destined for this Port which in turn leads to further delays and increased costs yet again.