Plp: We Were Voted Out Before We Could Regulate Water Sports


The scene of the boat fire on June 30.


Tribune Staff Reporter


THE Christie administration drafted amendments to laws governing water sport activities in the Bahamas but was voted from office before tabling the amendments in the House of Assembly.

The proposed revisions, obtained by The Tribune, take on relevance following the Bahamas Maritime Authority’s report into the deadly Exuma 4C’s accident.

The bills partially address loopholes that were highlighted by the report, though they do not solve a central problem facing the industry: the lack of resources the Port Authority requires to enforce its rules and regulations.

It is not clear whether the Minnis administration will take up the bills, which include amendments to the Commercial Recreational Watercraft Act and the Water Skiing and Motor Boat Control Act, along with their accompanying regulations.

The Commercial Recreational Watercraft Act governs the activities of boats like the 37ft 4C’s vessel, that had an onboard explosion on June 30. The PLP’s amendment to the law would have required such vessels to present a “safety case” to port officials, a “written document prepared by or on behalf of an owner to demonstrate the major hazards arising from the operation of a craft has been reduced to risk levels that are within acceptable industry standards and will be managed effectively”.

The licensing of a craft would have been partially contingent on the presentation of a safety case under the PLP’s bill.

The BMC raised concerns in its report that 4C’s did not ensure that its self-built vessel had been surveyed by a recognised organisation. The existing law already requires that applicants for craft licences submit “plans, specifications and inventories” and produce for inspection the “machinery, gear, fixtures and equipment used in connection with the craft”.

But the Christie administration’s amendment to the Commercial Recreational Watercraft Act would have gone further in specifying the requirements of owners of boats with respect to this.

Under the bills, it would be required that the safety case include “details of any significant hazards, a description of the principal features of the design of the craft machinery and systems and the particulars of its construction, outfit and inspection that are intended to ensure that hazards are minimised”.

The bills would require that the case include “results of any practical demonstration or test to determine whether the plant, systems or equipment essential for the safety of personnel or controlling the consequences of an accident, will be capable of function in conditions of fire, flooding, adverse heel, adverse trim and climatic conditions” and “any limitations in the specification of the design of the craft and its equipment in relation to the area, depth or height of operation, climatic conditions, sea state or other limit for safe operation and use” as well as the “particulars of applicable requirements of national, international or classification society standards, regulations or codes of practice.”

The safety case would also require that operators provide “proposed crewing and qualification” and “details of specific crew training requirements appropriate to the nature of the ship,” a potentially relevant issue after the BMC’s report noted that the first mate on the destroyed 4C’s vessel was a 12-year-old boy, the son of 4C’s owner Patterson Smith.

A main purpose of the PLP’s proposed amendments was to regulate under-regulated parts of the water sports industry, including novelty crafts, which are new and rare but intended for commercial use, submersible crafts, which are capable of navigation when totally submerged, and wings-in-ground crafts, which are “multimodal crafts that fly by using ground effect above the water or some other surface, without constant contact with such a surface and supported in the air mainly by an aerodynamic lift generated on a wing or wings, hull, or their parts, which are intended to utilise the ground effect action”.


DDK 11 months, 1 week ago

It actually sounds like a sensible bill, enforcing it, as usual, another story. Interestingly enough, we just this week met some folks from the North-West U.S. who are here to test a submersible craft because, they said, our rules (and fees) are so much more lax than those in the United States.


hnhanna 11 months, 1 week ago

The write of this news story did not mention when this bill was deafted by the PLP, I do not likethese guessing news story


Dawes 11 months, 1 week ago

The date wasn't in the report given to them to type up by the PLP. so they decided not to guess.


licks2 11 months, 1 week ago

A good bill is a good bill. . .soooooooooooooooo if the PLP wrote it then they wrote a very good bill!


bogart 11 months, 1 week ago

Absolutely incredible....!!! ....Bill dealt with crafts using ground effects..mind boggling...!!! that they could have anyone capable of ..such sciemtific thinking.....an...an..an....mismanaged so many easy peasy financial .projects...wasting hundreds of millions taxpayers VAT....an now even much porer Bahamian taxpayers have to pay to correct those mistakes....and salaried officers still havd jobs....mudda tek sic...!!!


SP 11 months, 1 week ago

Blah, blah, blah, Christie was too busy dancing about the place and selling us out to the Chinese to get anything accomplished!

If Christie had an ounce of grey matter under all that hair dye, he would have seen the wisdom offered by Dr. Andre Rollins early after their 2012 victory to get as much accomplished as fast as possible.

"Out of the mouth of babes" meant absolutely nothing to this dancing clown!


Jetflt 11 months, 1 week ago

So we are to believe if the PLP were in power 4Cs wouldn’t have been operating back yard built boats and back yard built fuel systems this senseless disaster wouldn’t have happened??? What a bunch of horse sh-t!!!


OriginalBey 11 months, 1 week ago

Correction: You were voted out before you could do anything. Politicians blame everything and the fact that their number didn't fall as to why they couldn't get something accomplished. Such a tired response. This is not the U.S. where the Senate doesn't rubber stamp what the House passes. Get the permanent secretary to draft the legislation which is who does all the work in respective ministries anyway, throw on a fresh suit paid for courtesy of VAT, pontificate in the HOA for a few days, vote and badda bing badda boom! No excuse! #OutOutStayOut


ConchFretter 11 months, 1 week ago

They had enough time to legalize the numbers people before they got voted out!!

Any ruling government in the Bahamas gets 5 years to regulate the country carte blanche!! If things don’t get done under your administration, whether FNM, PLP or DNA, no excuses!!!!


sheeprunner12 11 months, 1 week ago

That was important to the PLP ............ The Numbers Cartel was their financiers and partners in crime.


bogart 11 months, 1 week ago

While now in hindsight the Bill seems good as it is now currently described ....it should have been passed on by persons in the respective department for the new incoming government ....to move forward with it ..... Such laspes....discontinuations of items having research....costly paid for salaries by taxpayers....betterment of all....must be carried forward....regardless of which side wins. Take for example PMH....no incoming government should be faced with so much to correct for such a critical service to da people....matter of fact same seems true for much...an making matters worse noone is held responsible..cept the MP who may hav lost his job...but erryone done know he aint solely responsoble....!!! Pore people shouldnt be getting goosied both ways, by fired MP an govt workers on bill.


bahaymeeun 11 months, 1 week ago

Regulations do not matter in this instance. This boat was in an accident previous to this explosion where the the accident cause the gas tank to crack and was leaking very badly. The owner and staff knew this and because of greed and lack of concern for safety, continued to operate like this. The owner told them not to fill the tank as it leaked so badly. On this particular day they mistakenly filled it and boom! It was a bomb waiting to explode. These are facts, and the fact that he never had insurance or licences for his boats, yet somehow had a business license shows the corruption throughout. FNM or PLP, it makes no difference. You need boat licenses before you can get a business license! The captain had no license either, although the report said he did. The problem is, there is no penalty for operating without proper documentation, so it actually encourages the greedy to do this.


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