The Minister of Maritime Affairs has intervened to settle tension between jet ski operators and authorities who they accuse of victimisation and harassment, among a host of issues the operators said they have.
Following a meeting chaired by Minister Kirk Humphrey, the groups have come up with a plan of action to resolve the issues the operators said they have.
During the meeting, the operators levelled charges of victimization by some members of the Barbados Coast Guard, and challenges working with those from the Police Marine Unit. They also cited issues of having their vehicles impounded for extended periods of time, thereby affecting their ability to generate income.
In addition, the operators told Minister Humphrey that catamarans were having beach stops in areas where they would usually ply their trade, thereby limiting their operations. They also alleged that at least one establishment was deterring its patrons from engaging in water sports activity.
“There are things which are happening out there and we are asking you to come out and see these things for yourself,” one operator told the Minister. They also called on Government to assist in weeding out the “bad apples” on the water who were making it difficult for them to ply their trade.
Humphrey backed the operators’ own calls to stamp out “bad apples” in the industry, noting that they could have ramifications not just for the industry but the whole country.
Stressing that there was a need for discipline on the water, Humphrey also emphasized that the way business was done in Barbados had to change, including the way people spoke to each other.
Urging the operators not to allow other people’s behaviour to influence their own conduct, he said: “There are things we must do to deescalate situations.”
“I beg you not to come at us with a heavy hand or unfair approach,” the operator pleaded.
Representatives from the Police Marine Unit and the Barbados Coast Guard joined the operators at the recent meeting held at the BIDC building with Permanent Secretary Esworth Reid and Director of Maritime Affairs Jacqueline Blackman.
The plan of action will see the operators coming together with law enforcement entities to form a small working group to deal with outstanding issues.
Humphrey said: “It is better to work as a body than each person trying to plead their own case.” He stressed that he had heard the concerns of the operators and gave the assurance that there would be a resolution to the situation. (SD/BGIS)