Englerston MP Glenys Hanna Martin.
By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Deputy Chief Reporter
TOURISM and Aviation Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar’s remarks regarding the recent Andros plane crash drew rebuke from Englerston MP Glenys Hanna Martin, who suggested yesterday that the comments ahead of a completed air accident report could “muddy the water” as officials continue investigations.
Mrs Hanna Martin, former transport and aviation minister, told parliamentarians a mature approach must be taken to avoid speaking on the issues in a way that does not cause for higher understanding among Bahamians.
While Education Minister Jeff Lloyd has also delivered scathing comments regarding the crash, Mrs Hanna Martin singled out Mr D’Aguilar when she referred to the matter in the House of Assembly.
The crash killed six people, including pilot Darren Clarke, 45.
In the wake of the devastating incident, many described Clarke as a “hacker.” The term is used when referring to a person providing transportation services at a reduced price without having the necessary licence to operate in the industry.
Clarke was not licensed to run commercial flights, nor operate multi-engine planes.
“I also want to take this time to send condolences to the families of the people of North Andros who lost loved ones in the most recent aviation incident,” Mrs Hanna Martin said yesterday.
“Speaking of unlawful activity and the issue of illegal charters, I’ve listened and I have not commented because I have always been of the view that whenever there are investigations going on you do not comment especially if you are the minister because we run a risk of prejudicing the investigation. It’s best to allow your agency to conduct the investigation so that it ascertains the facts.
“I heard the minister speak about political will and I see a subtle effort to deflect from his responsibility as minister. The issue is very plainly that the only political will that is relevant right now is your political will.”
She also said: “But you must take responsibility and you must attack it in a way that you are able to get in front of the issue.
“The issue of illegal charters is one that if you just do a mere research, that the (US) Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is challenged with in the United States. It’s a complicated issue. It’s difficult. When I served as minister, the decals were introduced to allow passengers of the public to know this is a licensed commercial charter, etc. The law changed in 2015 but it has proven difficult from the enforcement point of view and so you have to look at that and so the FAA has been continually challenged.
“We must be very careful how we comment on these things in a way that does not cause for a higher understanding of the population. We want the investigation to take place. We want to ensure that something of this nature never happens again because the price is very high in this instance.
“But I think we have to be mature in how we approach it in a way that does not sort of muddy the water and allow an investigation to take place. Let the report come and out of that the minister will know what we must do next.”
On Tuesday, Mr D’Aguilar said he was shocked by what has been uncovered in recent days as it relates to procedures and policies that allow for pilots, such as Clarke, to work as “hackers.”
The Free Town MP said he has instructed Civil Aviation Authority Director General Charles Beneby to draft a policy document on how to best address the dilemma.
Mr D’Aguilar said the reality that the word “hacker” is so often used in the country’s aviation sector illustrates how serious the state of the country is in.
Meanwhile, reflecting on last week’s tragedy, Mr Lloyd said he does not care whose toes are mashed or egos assaulted – the situation mandates the government take a look at “the rogue circumstances” that exist in the sector.
Several parliamentarians offered their condolences to the victims and their families in the House of Assembly yesterday. A memorial service is planned for the victims on Friday at 10am in North Andros.