– investigators checking on whether alcohol played role
Authorities are investigating reports that senior employees of a ferry that ran aground
on Wakenaam, Sunday night, were drinking earlier in the day.
According to persons close to the investigation, they have received reports that employees were consuming alcohol in the Parika area.
Up to yesterday, the ferry remained stuck in the bushes of that Essequibo River island but almost all the vehicles have been taken off by a barge.
The incident would be a highly embarrassing one for the Transport and Harbours Department as the Sabanto was one of two vessels donated to Guyana by China back in January 2012.
The late night drama left the estimated 120 passengers traumatized.
More than half of the vessel is stuck on the island. Attempts to use a barge to remove it on Tuesday proved futile, eyewitnesses said.
T&HD is hoping that high tides expected this weekend will help to place the vessel in the water again. It was unclear whether the vessel sustained any damage.
According to a Government statement on Tuesday, the mishap reportedly occurred around 00:35hrs (Sunday night) as the vessel was en-route to Supenaam with passengers and crew. No injuries were reported.”
Passengers were forced to stay onboard until dawn when water taxis, responding to the vessel distress, collected them.
“Assessments by mariners, marine surveyors and engineers are currently underway to initially determine damage to the vessel and the best method of safely taking it off,” the Department said.
Sabanto’s sister vessel, KANAWAN, and the recently refurbished MV MALALI, were expected to take up the slack on the Parika/Supenaam route.
Harbour officials initially believed that rains and poor visibility were to be blamed for the midnight incident.
One official said that the Captain lost control of the ferry as a result.
Reports indicated that around 120 passengers were on the vessel which left Parika around 23:45 hrs Sunday. The vessel was about two miles into its journey when the mishap occurred.
Caught on the vessel was an ambulance assigned to the Suddie Public Hospital. It had earlier taken a heart patient to the Georgetown Public Hospital.
The ferries provide a critical link between the city and Essequibo Coast, for goods, farm produce and passengers.
A passenger on the other Chinese ferry, the KANAWAN, said she was with her family heading to Parika around midnight when the ferry suddenly turned around. They had passed the SABANTO a short while before.
At Wakenaam they came upon the shocking sight of the SABANTO stuck on the island.
The KANAWAN attempted to pull the stuck vessel from the bushes but in vain.
Angry passengers on board the KANAWAN reportedly protested saying it was placing their lives in danger. The KANAWAN eventually continued its journey to Parika, arriving shortly after 05:00hrs on Monday.
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