Three days after a runaway tug and barge rammed into the Demerara Harbour Bridge, the Maritime Administration Department (MARAD) is recommending several stringent regulations for vessels traversing the nation’s rivers.
Kaieteur News has confirmed that a report with the MARAD recommendations is already in the hands of Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson.
MARAD is also conducting a probe into the circumstances that caused Monday’s mishap that resulted in millions in damages to the structure.
Initial reports had indicated that the Panama-registered tug, Marina Oceanic and the barge, crashed into the structure after the tug’s engines failed.
However, sources close to the investigation said that it appears that the individuals operating the tug shut the engine off, and anchored the vessel “out of the anchorage point” (in an area where vessels are prohibited from anchoring)
It is believed that the crew wanted to be among the first to pass when the bridge was opened for vessels to traverse. However, they apparently didn’t reckon with the strong tides.
“They may have wanted to be first when the bridge opens, (but) the current and the force of the water pushed them into the bridge and they lost control of the tug,” a source said.
Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson confirmed yesterday that the owners of the vessels would have to bear the costs for the repair of the Harbour Bridge. Officials are still to assess the costs, which will run into millions.
“But it is not only the bridge; a young woman’s car has to be repaired. Also there is loss of revenue, since two days of revenue would have been lost,” Patterson added.
The Minister also confirmed that he had received MARAD’s proposals.
“We have notified the police, and MARAD launched an investigation, and we even notified the people who hired the vessel that we will be seeking compensation.
MARAD officials explained that there are already regulations in place, which require the captains of vessels to notify authorities 72 hours before they come into port.
“But now, they will have to also send information about the registration of the vessel, whether it is insured, whether the captain has a certified Master’s Licence; and whether the crew is also licensed.”
This also goes for vessels that are going beyond the Harbour Bridge.
MARAD is also seeking to ensure that all barges are piloted by tugs that are adequate in size.
“Most barges can’t be operated by themselves. The size of the barge must correspond with the size of the tug. Some also need two tugs. ”
MARAD is proposing that the owners of vessels notify officials about the size of tugs, which they require.
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