While the report into the incident involving the Chinese ferry MV Sabanto, which ran aground last month on Wakenaam is not yet complete, preliminary findings indicate that the incident was due to human error.
“So far as we can determine and pending the completion of the investigation it’s a case of human error or human delinquency,” Transport Minister Robeson Benn told Stabroek News, when asked for an update.
On November 17 the vessel, which was at the time heading from Parika to Supenaam, ploughed into bushes on the river bank at Wakenaam, around 12.35am. “The boat was travelling at the normal rate of speed but then just as it was coming out of the turn, the boat run up in the trees. People start to scream and everybody start to panic,” a speedboat monitor had related.
No injuries were reported and passengers disembarked at first light using water taxis.
Passengers had long blamed the mishap on the laxity of the vessel’s captain.
The Captain was sent on leave pending the outcome of the investigations. A new crew continues to work the vessel on the route.
Benn said that there was also a claim by the crew that it was raining at the time of the incident and this had impaired their visibility.
However he pointed out that the the vessel was equipped with radar and other state-of-the-art nautical equipment that would allow for smooth travel in any conditions. “The vessel has radar, and rain or no rain you should be able to see any obstacles to the left, right – for that matter [at] every point of the vessel,” he said.
“These vessels are the only radar equipped inland waterway vessels that we have,” he added.
He said too that there was no technical or mechanical problem with the vessel that would have led to the incident and the route taken was one that should be known as it is the same route and coordinates used in over 100 years of travel on the Essequibo River.
Nonetheless he said before a decision was made on the fate of the captain or in relation to consequences for anyone else involved, his ministry would await the outcome of the report.
Transport and Harbours Department (T&HD) General Manager Marclene Merchant had said that there was no damage to the vessel and that investigations into the incident are still ongoing.