The move comes after two young sisters were killed in an accident aboard a water taxi in Belize City on May 5.
BELIZE CITY, Tues. Aug. 6, 2019– In the wake of the explosion that occurred at about 3:00 Sunday afternoon, May 5, onboard Water Jets, a water taxi that was docked at the Ocean Ferry Water Taxi near the Swing Bridge, Belize City, it was found that the cause of the explosion was due to leaking gas that was ignited by a spark. The explosion had caused the deaths of Jamiri Guy, 10, and Kimberly Guy, 8, and had caused injuries to 19 passengers who were onboard the boat.
The Belize Port Authority is now enforcing the Water Taxi Regulations Statutory Instrument 29 of 2019, to ensure the safety of passengers onboard water taxis.
In enforcing the regulations, the Belize Port Authority announced that with immediate effect, all water taxis must issue personal flotation devices to passengers over one-year old. Water taxis must also submit their passenger manifests at least 15 minutes prior to the scheduled time of departure.
This requires passengers to provide their names. The names of all passengers traveling on the boat at each departure are required. Operators are now not allowed to carry cargo with passengers on board; only personal effects of passengers are allowed. Passengers who are considered to pose a threat to other passengers will be removed from the water taxi and charged.
The Port Authority said that effective September 1, 2019, all water taxi operators must be in possession of a valid permit and seaworthiness certificate issued by the Belize Port Authority, before operating a water taxi, and there will be an increase of $1 that will be included in the passenger’s fare for the purchase of a ticket.
This money will be used to pay for the officers to be present and for the ongoing monitoring of the water taxis.
In speaking to the media, the Ports Commissioner Merlene Bailey Martinez said that the purpose of the regulation is to improve safety and convenience of the passengers. The regulations cover the wearing of seatbelts, a requirement that the water taxis have two engines, and a requirement that an emergency management system be in place, among many others.
The provisions are aimed at ensuring a safer environment onboard water taxis.