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Indigenous marine pilots demand payments in dollar

Published by The Nation on Sat, 09 Jan 2021

Muyiwa LucasA GROUP of local marine pilots in the Warri Pilotage District, Delta State, Escravos Ship Pilots Nigeria Limited (ESPNL), has said it can no longer receive its payments in the countrys currency. The group is demanding to be paid in the United States dollar.The group has also lamented the illegal encroachment of navigable Escravos channel by fishermen and other persons claiming such activities constitute safety hazards for navigation.The ESPNL, in a letter to the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), said it piloted vessels safely from Escravos Bar to the four ports under the Delta Pilot District- Warri, Koko, Sapele and Burutu ports, adding that a monthly Reconciliation Committee with the NPA on harbours Master Declaration and pilot sheets be set to determine their dues for payment.The letter, signed by the Managing Director of the Escravos Ship Pilots Limited, Mr Johnbull Demebi, said that the group can longer continue to receive its payment in naira when their services and transactions are dollar denominated.Demebi also said if the dangerous trends of not having buoys along the Escravos Channel could lead to stoppage of shipping in the district.Part of the letter reads: The second aspect of our appeal relates to the dangerous impediments currently hindering the smooth operations in and around the Escravos Break Water .At present, there are no Buoy anywhere around the place and this is dangerous to our assignment as it is a navigational mark that aids our operations by showing or giving advance notice to pilots of reefs and/or other hazards along the navigable channels.Without a buoy out job is made more hazardous and we have to rely on our experience at all times which is not infallible as the existence of a buoy along the channel.Another challenge has to do with the current shallow nature of the channel, the channel has become so shallow that only a very urgent dredging of same can guarantee the prevention of avoidable incidents of vessels running aground in the channel.We ply this route all the time and we have on different occasions expressed our difficult experience in navigation caused by the shallowness of this area of the channel and shall continue to do so by officially bringing this complaint to your knowledge in the belief that urgent steps will be taken to open up the channel and avert any imminent disaster from occurring.Thirdly, we wish to report the incessant and illegal encroachment of the Navigable Channel by fishermen and other persons who do not have any lawful authority or licence to make use of the Federal Navigable Water Way.Their activities constitute serious hardship to us while piloting vessels vessels to and fro the Warri Pilotage District.Their activities range from illegal depositing of empty drums, fishing nets and all sorts of junks along the channel while claiming a right to fish in the waterway.Demebi suggested the constitution of a joint investigation Visitation Team comprising of NPA, Law enforcement agents member of the Escravos Ship Pilots Nigeria Limited, ESPNL to visit the affected area of the channel for an on spot assessment of the negative action of the encroachers.
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