Crew of boat which capsized in Essequibo River suspended

The Maritime Administration Department (MARAD) yesterday said that the crew of a boat which capsized in the Essequibo River on Sunday with 17 passengers aboard had been suspended while an investigation of the incident is done.

In a statement yesterday, MARAD noted that all 17 persons aboard `YAFFA G’ survived because they were wearing life-jackets. It urged that all river commuters wear life-jackets.

The statement from MARAD was quite unusual as it had not been issuing any on a series of accidents that have occurred in Guyana’s rivers, some fatal. This was pointed out in a news item in the Sunday Stabroek of June 19, 2011 headlined `Authorities silent on burgeoning speedboat accidents’. The report had pointed out also that there had been no disclosures from MARAD on probes into any of these accidents.

Passengers on board the `YAFFA G’ narrated hair-raising tales to Stabroek News about their travails after the boat began to take on water and eventually capsized.

The MARAD statement yesterday said that on July 24, 2011 at approximately 15:00 hours, `YAFFA G’, capsized in the Essequibo River just about mid-stream between Parika and Leguan Island.  At the time it was proceeding from Supenaam, Essequibo River to Parika, East Bank Essequibo.

MARAD said the vessel is owned and operated by Shaber Gafoor and at the time of the incident it was under the command of Captain Fidel Gibson.

There were seventeen adult passengers, two children and two crewmembers on board, the release said.  They were all wearing their lifejackets, and were all rescued by another small passenger boat. Passengers, MARAD said, also reported loss of personal effects and other items.

“This boat was compliant with the constructional requirements so it remained afloat even though capsized. Initial examination of the boat identified a hole, (approximately 750 mm x 50 mm) at the bottom of the hull”, the statement said.

MARAD said it is investigating the cause of the incident. “However, until this process has been completed, the crew has been suspended from operating while the vessel is being examined thoroughly and rigorously”, it said.

“It is important to note that all persons survived this incident because they were all wearing lifejackets. The Maritime Adminis-tration Department would like to take this opportunity to remind all persons travelling on these and other similar boats to stay safe by wearing life jackets when on board”, MARAD said.

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