By MORGAN ADDERLEY
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE Ministry of Transport and Local Government yesterday said it will pursue legal action against the 4C’s tour company for defying an order to cease operations.
The tour company was involved in a fatal incident in Barraterre, Exuma on June 30, which resulted in the death of an American woman and seriously injured two others who lost limbs.
The Tribune exclusively reported on Tuesday that the company had resumed business despite receiving a government issued cease and desist order on July 2.
This newspaper first reached out to Transport and Local Government Minister Renward Wells about the matter on July 11, the day it is understood that operations resumed.
On Tuesday, the Port Department announced it had moved to seize vessels owned by Four C’s.
In a statement released yesterday, the ministry explained this decision, attributing it to learning that the tour company had imported a boat from New Providence to conduct tours without the approval of the Port Authority.
The ministry reiterated that during a press conference held July 2, the company was issued a cease and desist order by the acting port controller.
This order called for the company to “effectively discontinue any further operations, pending the further outcome of the investigation into the matter.”
The ministry revealed that on Sunday, it was reported to the Port Department “that an unmarked vessel (unregistered and un-licenced) and staffed by Four C’s personnel was engaged in charter tours from Hurricane Hole, New Providence.”
Such operations defied the order, and according to the statement, a “final warning letter containing advice on the Port Department’s intention to take prosecutorial action against the owner and operators” of Four C’s was delivered to the company’s staging area at Hurricane Hole.
However, the ministry deemed this attempt unsuccessful, as “the principals” were not at that location. It added that subsequent enforcement action continued in George Town, Exuma by the Port Department.
According to the press release, officers from the Port Department, Royal Bahamas Defence Force, and Royal Bahamas Police Force are “currently…engaged in Exuma to detain the vessel which engaged in commercial activity in violation of the cease and desist order, after which action will be taken in the courts for the defiance of that order.”
The ministry added that it had requested that the Bahamas Maritime Authority conduct an independent casualty investigation into the accident. The head of BMA’s Casualty Investigation Department in London travelled to the Bahamas “shortly thereafter” to conduct the investigation.
The investigator has returned to the BMA’s head office in London, and “is in the process of completing his report into the matter.”
“That report will be provided to the government of the Bahamas, in accordance with procedures observed by the BMA for the handling of casualty investigations,” the statement noted.
“The Ministry of Transport and Local Government wishes to assure the public that this matter is being handled in accordance with required procedures, and having regard to the great seriousness with which the government regards it, with due respect for the loss of life and traumatic injuries that occurred,” the statement ends.
In late June, there was an explosion on a 4C’s boat while at sea, which resulted in the death of an American woman, Maleka Jackson, and led to two other people suffering amputation of limbs. These included Mrs Jackson’s husband Tyran Jackson and another visitor, Stefanie Schaffer, who lost both legs.