Gov’t to address maritime safety with regulations, training, inspection

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The authorities are moving to address safety in Guyana’s waterways and according to Minister of Public Works Juan Edghill, this is being done with enforced regulations, training and enhanced inspections of vessels.

He said that maritime safety is becoming an enormous issue for the country, citing improvements in navigation for local vessels.

“We have to step up our game, whether it’s fishermen, turbines, operators, mountain ships, speedboat operators or what we call water taxis.

“We have to step up our game in terms of safety,” Edghill said at an event at the Ministry’s Wight’s Lane, Kingston, Georgetown office on Tuesday.

Minister of Public Works, Juan Edghill

The minister explained that persons would normally traverse the country’s waterways without proper training, safety gear, licensing and navigation. But now, due to the increase volume of vessels, this tradition has become dangerous.

“The volume of use is what is becoming the issue now, because you have more boats, more frequent trips, so we now have to start putting some regulations in place,” Edghill revealed.

The inspections and training will be done by the Maritime Administration Department (MARAD).

Meanwhile, the Public Works Minister said the recent incidents on the waterways is concerning.

“Every incident, whether people survive or don’t survive, is a major issue, but when you can’t find people, it is very distressing, they cause me a lot of pain and agony cause I think about the families,” Edghill said.

In March, more than a month after three fishermen disappeared off the coast of the Mahaica River, a Board of Inquiry (BoI) found a number of irregularities which prompted inspections of fishing vessels before they go out to sea, training fishermen in safety, and ensuring they are licensed.

Captain Harold Damon, Winston Sam and Ronald Burton remain missing.

On Monday last, a family trip was halted when the boat they were in capsized in the Essequibo River moments after it left the Parika Stelling in Region Three.

The body of a 29-year-old man of Edinburgh Village, Region Six, Richard John, was recovered after another mishap on the Canje Creek on Sunday and his girlfriend is yet to be found.

Additionally, on Saturday, at Gatie Falls, Semang Creek, Middle Mazaruni River, a miner went under and disappeared after the boat he was in capsized.

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