Letters to the Editor

An accident waiting to happen?

Thursday, January 10, 2019

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Dear Editor,

Indiscipline on the roads has been the cause of most accidents, many of which have been fatal.

It was interesting that Governor General Sir Patrick Allen spoke to this in his New Year's message.

Over the holidays we read about many crashes, some involving a single vehicle. The recent boat incident which claimed two lives also highlighted the general lack of regard for rules and regulations and lack of controls and enforcement which allow hustlers to do as they please anywhere, risking lives. The vessel which capsized en route from Port Royal to Maiden Cay was carrying 13 people, including the captain, and from all accounts this was an accident just waiting to happen.

My first thought about the boat accident concerned the size of the vessel and whether it could carry the weight of 13 people which would've been around 2,000 pounds in total. It was later reported by the marine authority that the vessel was not a passenger vessel and was certified to carry only eight, including the captain, which indicates that the vessel was indeed small. The last marine certification was done in 2014, the vessel was therefore operating illegally.

Although accidents are inevitable, we try to reduce the risks with rules and regulations, but these only work when they are enforced. I think, as humans, we also have a responsibility to use our own judgement and instincts more often. It is not normal to overcrowd a vessel transporting people, whether car, plane or ship, as this would cause paranoia and compromise safety and comfort. Most people would not ride in an overcrowded vehicle or enter a vehicle if the driver is drunk or known to drive recklessly.

The captain might have ignored the bad weather warnings, especially for small craft, or perhaps he didn't bother to check. Reports indicate that the vessel did not have any communication devices which might explain why it took two hours for rescuers to arrive. The outcome of the boat accident could've been far worse, and the Jamaica Defence Force and the police along with Port Royal residents who assisted should be commended.

Lessons must be learned from this, and hopefully the authorities will do more to enforce compliance with rules and regulations in the interest of public safety.

P Chin


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