The Panama Canal Authority (PCA) has released statements combatting both the rumours of the privatisation of its tug fleet and the accusation that the expansion has made workers and seafarers unsafe.
Rumours began circulatinging on October 25, 2016 when many sources reported that the ITF had addressed a press conference claiming that the PCA was planning on privatising the entirety of Panama Canal operations in the future, and the privatisation of the tug boat fleet was merely the beginning.
The privatisation of the tug boat fleet would lead to further safety concerns, claims the ITF; Ivan de la Guardia, ITF coordinator for Panama and general secretary of Panama’s Tugboats Masters and Mates Union, said: “The crews on these hired tugs do not have the same skillset that canal personnel have acquired through intensive training and years of experience.”
The Panama Canal Authority released a statement claiming that the fleet had increased by large numbers since the expansion and that they had no plans to privatise its fleet, although some non-commercial tug boats are used, this is legitimate and usual practice.
The ITF has continually accused the PCA of ignoring safety concerns regarding the expansion, PTI reported back in June, 2016 that an independent study into the Panama Canal expansion, which was commissioned by the ITF and carried out by Brazil’s Fundação Homem de Mar, raised pressing concerns about the canal’s new locks, these were also denied by the PCA.