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Aug 1, 2019

New Rules for Water Taxis and Passenger Safety

A new set of regulations came into effect today for water taxis and those changes have one industry stakeholder up in arms.  Beginning August first, all seagoing vessels operated as water taxis are required to provide a passenger manifest, as well as life jackets for all persons onboard the craft.  In the next few weeks, round trip tickets to and from San Pedro and Caye Caulker will cost an additional two dollars to cover the cost of Port Authority personnel stationed at those respective terminals.  The adjustments succeed an industry-wide consultation process undertaken ahead of the enactment of Statutory Instrument Twenty-nine of 2019. 


Merlene Martinez

Merlene Martinez, Ports Commissioner

“What people do not realize is the majority of people who take these water taxis are Belizeans who are going between the cayes and mainland and we have seen where we have to look at safety issues and regulate the operations of these vessels primarily for passenger safety and convenience.  So that’s the impetus for passing water taxi regulations.  Now, with respect to the current situation, there are various measures that the regulations put in place.  We have various things in these regulations, one of them is the need for a passenger manifest and this is something that we have been looking at for quite a while.  And let me back track a while and say that maybe some four years ago we started this process.  It started with a meeting with the stakeholders; all the water taxi operators were at that meeting and proposed to them these changes.  So four years later, this is where we are.  The water taxi regulations deal with the issuance of life vests.  It deals with passenger manifests and people [are like], “Well, why do you need to know who is on a water taxi?”  How can I put this delicately?  If there is an incident in the sea, if there is an accident on the road, you can look at the people on the side of the road, in the middle of the road and you will know where they are.  If there is an incident in the sea, that makes it much more difficult, especially depending in where an incident happens.  So knowing who is aboard a water taxi is critical in responding to marine incidents.”

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