Misunderstanding at Ports Authority delays containers ships docking and departing

Two containers ships Victoire Panama and Polynesian Valletta delayed in the Apia port due to the misunderstanding

BY Lagi Keresoma

APIA, SAMOA: WEDNESDAY 12 AUGUST 2015:  The employees did not strike but it was a miscommunication between the Samoa Port Authority (SPA) Transportation division   and  the night shift that cancelled operations at Matautu wharf last night.

This was the clarification given by the SPA Deputy Port Master Herman Overhoff to Talamua when asked about the alleged strike over  employees unpaid overtimes, which resulted in the night shift employees not turning up for work last night.

“No,  it was not a strike, just miscommunication,” said Mr. Overhoff.

SPA’s Maritime division cancelled all operations  at the wharf last night including clearing of a container ship from the wharf to make way for another container ship to dock.

“Under the Ministry of Work Infrastructure & Transport (MWIT) regulations, there has to be a full force to operate any ship or boat  docking,” said Overhoff.

Only half of the workers turned up for work which prompted  Maritime Management  to cancel operation rather than risking any incidents.

According to Overhoff,  the full force team includes 14 crew members to operate 2 tug boats, 7 on each boat, two maritime pilots and 5 linesmen.

For one boat, 2 tug boats are needed to guide them into the  harbour, a pilot has to be on the  incoming boat to assist the captain in bringing the boat to dock.

Two linesmen are needed to hold down one rope to help  pull the boat along the docking area.

Last night, only a few were on hand, but  Maritime did not want to risk not only the safety of the workers, but the possibility of a lawsuit .

A spot check on any operation is conducted by MWIT internal auditor anytime a boat comes in and if Maritime does not comply with the regulation, they face charges, said Overhoff.

The alleged strike surfaced after several shipping freight companies complaint about the delay in clearance of their cargoes from the container ships because no workers turn up to work last night.

According to Overhoff, the miscommunication was due to the wrong information on the Maritime division paper work.

The night shift was supposed to be picked up before 12.00am last night, however, the paper work presented to SPA  administration  who allocated transport noted different times for pick up for different employees.

“So the night shift workers came in at different times and by the time other workers arrive, other s have gone home” said Overhoff.

Rather than postponing or delay work, they decided to cancel until today. Asked if the employees get overtime, Overhoff said yes.

“It delays sometimes but they are being paid overtime,” he said.

The container ship  Polynesian Valletta that was supposed to leave last night was delayed for over 12 hours because of the incident.

The other container ship Victoire Panama which was supposed to dock at the wharf last night, was  docked a few meters from the habour this morning.