Water sport operators are accusing Government of attempting to make scapegoats of them, following the recent disappearance of two tourists while riding on a jet ski. On Thursday, Minister of Maritime Affairs, Kirk Humphrey made it clear that tougher laws were coming to govern the sector.
He also noted that enforcement of the existing laws would be ramped up in the interim.
However, this morning jet ski operators at Bay Street told Barbados TODAY that they feel that their livelihood is being put under the microscope unfairly.
“I have no problem whatsoever with rules but this seems like they want to start to make things difficult for people to make a living. I am doing this for near 20 years and the only two serious incidents happened with the tourist out Oistins couple years ago and then with the two that went missing this year, which we still don’t know what happened,” said one jet ski operator, who did not want to be identified.
Another operator who was filling his jet ski with petrol, shouted, “These people prefer if we do wrong things to make money.”
Further up at Needham’s Point one operator, who referred to himself only as Gilly, told Barbados TODAY that with the exception of a few operators who “beach” [ride the jet skis to shore] carelessly, operators conduct business safely for the most part.
“You could have 50 car accidents in a year and people die but you wouldn’t hear anybody talking about changing laws but the minute something happens with a jet ski, all of a sudden newspapers coming round and everybody got something to say,” he said.
On the west coast operators did not want to comment on the development, some strongly suggesting that it was time to move on.
However, insisting that there was need for new legislation, Humphrey said, “We are going to have to put more teeth into the legislation.”
Currently an operator’s licence may be revoked as a result of two offences – manslaughter caused by the watercraft or if the person was convicted of a repeat offence.
But Humphrey said “I feel we have to review that. We have to make it very clear. I think in applying for jet ski [licence]there has to be clear rules and we have to continue to monitor what is occurring on the seas. But the word has to be enforced. We have to enforce the legislation as it stands and when we make the amendments we must enforce that legislation as well,” he insisted.
His comments came as Commissioner of Police Tyrone Griffith provided an update on investigations involving a jet ski and a missing couple.
While the couple has not been found, Griffith said the local authorities were receiving assistance in analyzing the jet ski, which was found 12 days after the couple went missing on June 24.
The couple, Oscar Suarez, 32, and Magdalena Devil, 25, were in Barbados on vacation.