By RIEL MAJOR
Tribune Staff Reporter
SCORES of disgruntled watercraft operators flocked to Goodman’s Bay yesterday to protest against hotels renting vessels to their guests.
They are also angry about the “poor” conditions of the Goodman’s Bay ramp and are calling for the immediate dismissal of the Port Authority’s chairman.
Pedro Sinclair Bannister, vice president of the Cable Beach Water Sports Association, said watercraft operators from Paradise Island and the Sandals resort came together in solidarity at Goodman’s Bay.
Mr Bannister said: “We had a protest concerning the Baha Mar hotel renting motor watercrafts to their guests... they are not supposed to be renting motorised equipment to the guests.
“It’s not fair… if one hotel opens up the door for the hotels to use jet skis and rent any motor watercrafts that will hurt the small business man who [work] out here. We want them to know this is an industry for the Bahamian people. Water sports is not for foreign investors to be investing their money and trying to get involved in our business.”
“When you have a new activity and you want it to be in the hotel, you’re supposed to put it in the newspaper for at least two to three weeks in case someone wants to object; they have the right to object to that. I don’t think they were vetted, they were not put in the newspaper for people to see. They did this in a slick way.”
The vice president said the chairman of the Port Authority is also a security chief at Baha Mar and the association views that as a conflict of interest.
He said: “If we have a problem with the jet ski operators and they have to go the board to [be] disciplined, it’s not fair to have a man working for the hotel discipline the people that work for themselves.
“We are [being] victimised. [This] never happened before and I don’t know how he got this position. We are asking for his immediate removal.”
Mr Bannister also is calling for Works Minister Desmond Bannister to repair the Goodman’s Bay ramp.
He said: “This ramp is in a bad state, this is 2019 we shouldn’t have people lifting jet skis in and out of water. When you go to the States, they have proper ramps and I don’t see why we can’t have that in this same area.”
Additionally, he wants the Port Authority to keep its word on renewing the licences of jet ski operators from a hotel on the Cable Beach strip.
He explained: “We have people that had a jet ski licence that were working at the Nassau Beach Hotel. Now the hotel was knocked down and Port Authority told us when the hotel opened back up, we will be placed back at our place of business.
“I don’t see what the hang up is for us going back there. We were supposed to be the first person to go back there. Not a new company coming in and getting new numbers to operate…that’s a big problem. This doesn’t leave a good taste in our mouth and if the chairman or the minister don’t hear me, Supreme Court will hear me.”
He added: “I’m a Bahamian; I didn’t fly here and there are a lot of foreigners on the beaches now. I don’t discriminate against nobody, but you have Haitians renting jet skis now, Jamaicans renting jets skis, next we going to have Chinese and Cubans. This is The Bahamas, I can’t go to these places and rent jet skis; this place is too slack. Bahamas water sports are for Bahamians.”
The Tribune made numerous attempts to contact the Port Authority for a comment, but efforts were unsuccessful up to press time.