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Posted by portugalpress on February 14, 2018

For all the publicity about sophisticated surveillance systems, the truth appears to be that the safety of Portugal’s coastal waters runs “at half mast” during every single night shift.

Between 11pm and 7am, Roca Control - the nerve centre designed to alert shipping to any kind of incident or developing danger - is on a skeleton rota.

Say reports, daily navigational warnings are being released advising ships passing through Portuguese waters that there will be no VHF reports on what is known as COPREP - ships over 300 tons that transport dangerous cargoes, passenger vessels and large fishing boats - between those hours.

Tabloid Correio da Manhã stresses this means that Roca Control - set up 10 years ago in Oeiras, near Lisbon, at a cost 101.8 million euros - “no longer receives or transmits shipping alerts” through the night.

The reason is blamed on a “lack of staff”. The Ministry of the Sea is reported to be awaiting Finance Ministry authorisation to hire “12 more technicians”.

The new team members have already been chosen. It is simply a matter of getting the green light to “incorporate” them into rosters at Roca Control.

This ‘hiatus’ has been ongoing for months, says CM - a fact, it says, that the Ministry of the Sea does not refute.

But the official response is that “the service of traffic control has been functioning without breaks in service, 24/7 every day of the year, with no problems for safety”.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com

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