Water taxi companies say the new Boat Manifest System is working
Friday, September 27th, 2019
Since the implementation of the mandatory boat manifest on August 1, 2019, water taxi companies in Belize state that passengers seem to be adapting to the new system. The manifest is intended to provide entry and exit information of passengers and is particularly essential in case of an accident at sea. Passengers traveling via Ocean Ferry or San Pedro Belize Express water taxi companies, and even Thunderbolt (to and from Corozal Town) are required to have with them an identification document (ID) to purchase a ticket. The directive for this manifest came from the Belize Port Authority (BPA) under the Water Taxi Regulations Statutory Instrument 29 of 2019.
When first introduced, water taxi companies claimed that passenger feedback was negative, as they didn’t want to wait in lines to register. However, people seem to be adapting to the new system and are arriving earlier for processing.
San Pedro Belize Express Water Taxi’s Shameka Pennill shared with The San Pedro Sun that as with all new things, at first, the process was slow, but now they have implemented a new system that has made the manifest much easier and faster. “When we started, we got a lot of negative feedback from our passengers, especially locals since they didn’t want to go through the manifest process since it was a bit slow. However, we have now implemented a new and faster way for people to register and we are noticing people are reacting with a better attitude towards it,” she said. She further stated that if someone doesn’t have an ID, they are still allowed to go on the boat once they can provide their personal information. “The ID card is just for us to make the process faster instead of asking them all those questions. Also, if you are a regular customer you won’t need your ID since your information will automatically be recorded in the system, once you provide your name to the teller” said Pennill. Another water taxi company on the island, Ocean Ferry Belize also stated that people are getting used to this system and understand that it is important. In addition to this manifest, a passenger user fee of $1 has been included in the fare when purchasing a ticket. The water taxi companies are required to submit a Passenger Manifest at least 15 minutes before each scheduled departure time. In the case of cargo, operators are l not allowed to carry cargo with a passenger; only personal items of passengers are allowed.
For years residents on Ambergris Caye have appealed for a boat manifest. This new regulation also creates a database of passengers traveling to the Cayes in case of an emergency and can help law enforcers when monitoring potential criminal activities. The water taxi companies in Belize hope that the public continues to support this new measure that will enhance the safety and accountability of their runs.
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