The Maritime Administration Department (MARAD) says boat operators in the Demerara and Essequibo rivers must comply with its new safety regulations and install canopies on their vessels by March 31.
According to a Government Information Agency (GINA) press release Minister of Transport and Hydraulics Robeson Benn and a team recently inspected boats at the Georgetown and Vreed-en-Hoop Ferry Stellings to observe the implementation of the new rules.
The regulation requires that all passenger boats carry a canopy and their sides protected in order to prevent passengers from being exposed to the weather while securing them in the vessels. MARAD had earlier instituted regulations making it compulsory for all passengers to wear a life jacket on embarking the boats. GINA said MARAD also certifies boat operators and vessels regularly.
According to GINA, boat owner and operator Bisham Prasaud, who has already installed the canopy and safety bars on his vessel, said he welcomes the new measures. He said it would ensure that the safety jackets last longer and also protect the interior of the vessel which would require less maintenance.
The Boat Operators Association has also recommended other measures to improve the safety of the vessels. These include redesigning the safety flotation mechanism of the boats and the installation of a ‘drop stern’ to prevent the boat from sinking if an accident occurs.