Don’t disadvantage the poor and middle class.
That was the Opposition’s appeal to Government yesterday on the eve of today’s 2017 budget delivery.
Twenty ships, most of them partially capsized, rotting or sunk, have been officially taken possession of by the Ministry of Transport.
In full page colour ads in newspapers on Friday, with images of bedraggled ships, the ministry sought to highlight the initiative it has taken in tackling the problem of marine debris in its waters. Steven Valdez, of the yachting association, has been a constant and vigilant spokesman on the issue and said in and spoke interview about the frustrations faced by those who use the sea. "The red tape and legal implications were always going to be a challenge in having these derelicts removed," Valdez said.
"The reason why they were dumped in our waters in the first place was due to complacency on the part of the relevant authorities and laws that are outdated. It's now up to the fishermen, ship captains, sailors, boaters and environmentalist to keep a vigilant eye out for any new derelicts entering our waters. We have to protect our ocean because it appears that those charged with that responsibility have not been efficient in nipping this situation in the bud."
The ministry note informed the public that the vessels had been claimed as they were stranded and abandon and were and dangerous obstruction to navigate. Valdez indicated that the action was long overdue. "Many of these old vessels have been stuck to our ocean beds for many years and will require a massive and costly exercise to have them floated and/or removed," he said.
"The minister and the public servants involved appear to be serious about having them removed but the delays are constant and with each passing day, the risk of more vessels finding their way to the bottom of the ocean, due to leaks that no one is monitoring on board, is great. These vessels pose a serious threat to the environment. They also pose a threat to national security as there have been numerous reports of illicit activities taking place on board these vessels during the night."