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Fuel truck overturns, almost capsizing boat

Fuel truck overturns, almost capsizing boat

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The department of maritime administration is investigating an incident in which a fuel truck overturned on board a vessel headed to the Grenadine island of Canouan.

According to reports, the MV Guidance was travelling from Kingstown to Canouan on December 23, when, at around 4:30 p.m., the fuel truck overturned, crushing a Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) and partially damaging a car.

The overturned truck almost capsized the boat, which was filled with passengers and cargo, but the boat’s captain, Maxwell Burke, was able to sail the vessel, which was leaning on one side, safely into Canouan.

When contacted on Wednesday, businessman Ricardo Drayton, managing director of Vincy Aviation, which is said to have some ties to the fuel truck, refused a detailed comment.

“At this point, I don’t want to comment on that. I want to make sure that we have all the facts on this matter before I comment,” Drayton told SEARCHLIGHT.

Hyrone Johnson, director of the department of maritime administration, said on Wednesday that when incidents of this nature occur, his department will carry out an investigation, and that investigation is ongoing.

He said a rumour that the boat was overcrowded has so far proven untrue.

Johnson also noted that the basic standard for transporting cargo of this nature is that it be well secured.

“Even though things are well secured, accidents can happen. I am not defending anything, because I am not privy to what happened, but what I can tell you is that the maritime administration is conducting an investigation into the incident and the investigation will reveal several things, including who is the owner of the truck,” said Johnson.

The incident has brought to the fore the issue of the establishment and enforcement of regulations governing the transportation of dangerous goods by sea.

On Wednesday, SEARCHLIGHT contacted general manager of SOL EC Limited Steve Francis to find out what procedure his company uses for transporting fuel on board ferries in the waters of St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG).

Francis said that at all times, SOL charters vessels to transport fuel for VINLEC to the Grenadines, as far south as Union Island.

“We don’t put fuel on board with passengers; that’s not our policy. We use Bequia Express or Gem Star, all charters,” said Francis, who added that the vessels should have insurance and so should customers. He added that SOL has never had an incident of that nature.

Facility supervisor at SOL Monty Browne told SEARCHLIGHT that when transporting fuel, the container being used must be filled to capacity, as any rolling of the ship can cause the contents to swirl and unbalance the container. He noted that when moving fuel, SOL makes sure that container is strapped down and if the container is on a truck, the truck is also strapped down with a chain.

He said that large quantities of flammable liquids should not be transported on a ferry with passengers.

In relation to the two vehicles damaged during the mishap, an insurance specialist told SEARCHLIGHT that unless the vehicles are comprehensively insured and have special extensions on their contract dealing with ferry coverage, the owners will not be paid for their vehicles.

When contacted via telephone, the boat’s captain said he had no comment to make.(LC)