Following up on its promise to crack down on unsafe practices, MARAD today said that north west communities have been told that passenger vessels will not be able to operate on the rivers there during the hours of darkness except for emergencies.
The Director General of the Maritime Administration Department (MARAD), Claudette Rogers travelled with a team of officers from MARAD to the areas of Port Kaituma and Mabaruma in Region One on November 11, 2016, to conduct a safety awareness programme for boat operators, a release from MARAD said.
Operators were briefed on River Navigation and Safety Regulations by Director Maritime Safety, John Flores, where they were encouraged to practice all river safety rules whenever traversing the waterways, in an effort to curb the recent spate of accidents occurring in the area.
Also highlighted to the operators were the new river navigation regulations which will be implemented soon in the Mabaruma, Port Kaituma, and Moruca areas, the release said. These were specially produced for those areas where an enhanced prosecution process will follow for persons breaching the safety regulations.
Some of these regulations include zero tolerance for those captains who are not certified and passenger vessels will not be allowed to operate during the hours of darkness, only in the case of an emergency.
Further, MARAD will deploy speedboat monitors in the specified areas to conduct safety checks on vessels travelling the waterways. Monitors will be assisted by the law enforcement agencies comprising the Coast Guard and Marine Police, the release added.
The Director General encouraged the boat operators to be licensed, and explained that MARAD will be making the process easier for them by establishing safety centres in Regions 1, 2, and 7 where they will no longer have to travel to Georgetown.
The measures follow a spate of fatal river accidents in the northwest.