Unfortunately, as soon as I’ve reached San Lorenzo, I recieved this so sad news, that a boatmen disappeared on duty. It was a competitor’s employee but this fact is irrelevant. The problem we are facing over here is Coast Guard do not require specific numbers of crew member for “inner-port” navigation in small boats, so that the companies are allowed to render services with ONLY ONE BOATMAN on board, even at nights and despite the local weather conditions. Why? Because they are supplying boat services with low-cost small boats, that according to national regulations can be navigated with only one single person. Why? Because the prototypes (from shipyards) are approved in Buenos Aires, in Coast Guard’s Head Office, not taking into considerations the local security scenarios existing in our so diferents ports such as vessel traffic, trip distances, flows, winds, shores, kind of services (mooring, passangers, cargoes, etc.), different kind of ports, or even the type/size of vessels they must stay alongside (from barges to panamax).
I’m making efforts through ours related-to chambers (we don’t have an specific one, in mooring/boats) and working by-side with unions/syndicates to avoid this kind of low-cost. It’s a pitty we suffer a tragedy to change the narrow-mind of national authorities. They are always against changes in regulations – “everything is going well up to now..” they said. I personal believe, and also hope, this is going to change from now – I’ve been carrying on several meetings with unions’ chiefs today, nevertheless, it’s higly important to think that we need to work all together in an international safety standard for all of us. It’s a hard work to lead on, but It is well-worth.
To sum-up, we need to take into consideration, minimun size of boats, crew-members numbers required, etc..
These bad news must encourage us to don’t give up and keep on fighting for the boatmen’s rights.
Cristian Daniel García
Argentina Boatmen President