Cochin Port Employees Sangh acting president Maxi Dedacos has shot a letter to the Director General of Shipping drawing his attention to the increasing frequency of marine accidents in the vicinity of Cochin Port.
He said the frequent accidents have raised serious concerns about the safety norms adopted by vessel plying through Cochin channel.
He pointed out in the letter that on April 26, Nehru Shatabdi, a dredger owned by the Cochin Port rammed into the Marine Jetty damaging the entire structure. Though no personal casuality was reported, the jetty was fully damaged.
He also mentioned the incident where a fishing boat caught fire and drifted through the shipping channel for four hours before moving to safely. Maxi Dedacos has stated that these incidents took place in a very busy shipping channel and that the Port authorities were yet to wake up to the seriousness of the incidents.
A preliminary inquiry into the dredger incident reveals that dredger lost control after steering gear break down. But, further investigation reveals that dredger was operating for past several months with a defective steering system. He alleged that the steering control system was not attended to by Port authorities even after repeated incidents of steering break downs in the dredger for past several months.
He warned that such incidents happening repeatedly in a busy shipping channel may lead to major accidents resulting in closing down of main shipping channel itself. He observed that the dredger is manned by Port employees who do not have essential STCW certificates and that 80 per cent crew does not even know swimming. There is no accommodation ladder for evacuating crew in case of emergency.
He also stated that the dredger is employing navigating officers and engineers who are retired and do not have essential valid certificates of competency.
After the incident, the Port authorities are still operating the dredger without getting the essential system repaired. Dredger shell plate is also damaged which is yet to be repaired.
Any fishing vessel are anchored in the mouth of the shipping channel resulting in chances of collision.