Captain in Essequibo River mishap was not certified, permitted to operate boat

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Jermain Blackman, the 34-year-old boat captain involved in the Essequibo River mishap two days ago was not certified or permitted to operate the vessel along the Parika to Bartica route.

Two passengers – Randy Adams of Bartica and Alvin Leitch of Charlestown, Georgetown – drowned following the mishap. Their bodies were only recovered on Monday by police. Regional Commander, Senior Superintendent Dion Moore confirmed to the News Room that neither of the men was wearing life jackets.

Following the recovery of the bodies, the Minister of Public Works who has responsibility for the Maritime Administration Department (MARAD), Juan Edghill in a statement said: “I extend my deepest sympathy to the family, friends, and loved ones of the two persons who lost their lives in the Essequibo River.”

The vessel ‘Carlos’ was transporting 10 passengers from Parika to Bartica.

During the journey, Blackman said the vessel was punctured while navigating a damaged beacon and immediately began to sink.

The captain said he attempted to sail to shore but the vessel sunk before reaching safety.

Recovered Randy Adams (left) and Alvin Leitch

Investigations by MARAD have found that such vessels are also not permitted to operate at night.

“MARAD has designated 17:00 hours as the latest departure time for boats to depart Parika or Bartica on this service, so as to arrive before dark. The Carlos reportedly departed from the Parika Stelling at approximately 17:30 hours after MARAD’s monitors would have concluded work for the day,” Edghill said in his statement.

MARAD’s record reflects that the last authorised departure was by the “Lady Zeneill” – a boat licensed to operate within the system, at 17:10 hrs

Edghill said the issue of unlicensed “outside” boats transporting passengers on the waterways is actively engaging the attention of the Administration.

“We continue to urge the traveling public not to board water taxis/speedboats operating outside of the regulated system and hours of operation.”

MARAD, as the regulatory authority, also wishes to reiterate that all persons using boats or water taxis must properly and securely wear lifejackets.

River Navigation Officer, Captain Romain Seurattan, is spearheading the investigation and is working along with the Guyana Police Force.

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