In efforts to ensure Guyanese safety on the rivers and waterways the Maritime Administration Department (MARAD) has officially opened a Maritime Safety centre at Bartica.
Director General of Maritime Administration Department (MARAD) Claudette Rogers cutting the ribbon at the commissioning of the MARAD safety Office. (left to right Mayor of Bartica Gifford Marshall, Director of MARAD Claudette Rogers, Regional Chariman (Region7) Gordon Bradford)
MARAD Director of Safety John Flores said that the centre will aid in the de-centralisation for the residents in Bartica and nearby communities, so that they, “can have access to the same services we would have in Georgetown.” The project was initially launched when the government mandated MARAD to seek urgent measures to improve the, “safe use of the rivers in this community as a number of river related accidents seem to be a weekly occurrence.” Flores stated.
The MARAD Director General Claudette Rogers explained that after analyses of accident reports on the small boats accidents, it was decided by the agency to urgently address the situation. The reports deemed that the primary causes were speeding, recklessness, negligence, no proper look out, non-conformance with safety standards, lack of knowledge for the international regulations for preventing collusions at sea, behaviour issues and traditions, operating under the influence, overloading, unseaworthy boats, unlicensed boats, uncertified operators, and poor maintenance of machinery.
MARAD has since enhanced boat designs; boats now have super structure, improved buoyancy compartments, and the establishment of Maritime safety centres in Bartica, Charity and Mabaruma the Director General explained.
Rogers further noted that, “Wherever there are boats, you want to have centres,” the next area that will be targeted is Berbice.
The office was given to the agency free of cost by the regional administration Flores noted, as he expressed appreciation to the Regional Chairman and his staff.
Rogers said that other initiatives to be taken are the suspension of boat licenses, reduction of horse power in engines, examining age limits of the operators and the expansion of the educational safety programs at schools.
Meanwhile, Flores encouraged residents to make full use of the facilities available as the agency, “seeks to improve the safe use of our rivers especially for the many visitors from overseas and the mining industry that use it daily but more especially for the ordinary communities including our school children.”
Regional Chairman Gordon Bradford urged the boat operators to be more cautious and follow the rules.
In 2003 MARAD was established under the 1998 Merchant Shipping Act. The goals and objectives of MARAD are to reduce loss of life at sea, personal injury and property damage in Guyana.