28 April 2016
An independent safety study into the Panama Canal expansion, which was commissioned by the ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation) and released this morning at a press conference in Panama City, has raised pressing concerns about the canal’s new locks.
The ITF commissioned the study, which was carried out by Brazil’s Fundação Homem de Mar (FHM), in response to safety concerns raised by its Panamanian member unions (see http://goo.gl/TdcK5Y). FHM was tasked with preparing a mathematical model, using a Manoeuvring Simulator Class A, to recreate the new locks, aneo-Panamax vessel and the tugboats that would assist its manoeuvres.
The concerns raised by the unions centred on the Panama Canal Administration’s refusal to engage in dialogue on matters such as training, as well as the technical and construction issues that have led to delays in the operation of the new infrastructure. They have been borne out by the study’s simulation exercises. These, using a neo-Panamax model vessel and two tugboats, concluded that the safety of manoeuvrability is compromised due to several factors:
The full study can be seen at a http://goo.gl/17QF2K. A video of a simulated transit can be seen below:
The study’s conclusions were released this morning at a press conference in Panama City attended by leading representatives of trade unions, safety and maritime organisations, as well as government representatives.
The ITF, like its Panamanian member unions, has previously offered to work with the Panama Canal Authority (PCA) to ensure that the safety concerns of those who will work on the new infrastructure are addressed, and is making the study available to the PCA.
Speaking from Panama City, ITF general secretary Steve Cotton said: “I wish I could report that the study gave the new locks the all clear. Sadly, I can’t. Instead we face a situation where those working on the canal, and those passing through it, are potentially at risk. That will have to change.”Source: ITF