Jetboat firms welcome new rules
Queenstown jetboat operators are welcoming new rules that will see all commercial drivers on rivers licensed for the first time.
Introduced by Maritime New Zealand and announced by Associate Transport Minister Simon Bridges yesterday, the new rules stipulate drivers must be licensed and fill out mandatory log books.
Current drivers may apply for a licence under special transitional provisions, and will be issued subject to a safe driving record and drivers being "fit and proper persons" as defined by the Maritime Transport Act 1994.
New drivers will be required to pass a practical test before gaining a licence. The rule, which comes into effect on August 2, also includes design and construction changes which will provide greater passenger protection.
MNZ general manager Maritime Services Sharyn Forsyth said the licence was a requirement of the new Maritime Rule Part 82: Commercial Jet Boat Operations which included continuing competency checks for all drivers.
Ms Forsyth said MNZ had worked closely with the industry, and the New Zealand Commercial Jet Boat Association (NZCJBA), in developing the rule.
"Operators are keenly aware of the importance of safety and risk management – their standards are extremely high. This rule, in large part, reflects what is already standard practice," she said.
Association chairman Jerry Hohneck said the new driver licence showed the maturity of the industry in New Zealand.
"It represents a benchmark in jet boating, not just in New Zealand but on a global level, and is the culmination of a lot of work by MNZ, the industry, and the NZCJBA.
"Commercial jet boat operators in New Zealand take risk management extremely seriously and safety is of paramount importance. We are always looking for ways of improving safety processes and the introduction of a driver licence is part of that."
Kawarau Jet director Shaun Kelly said he welcomed the introduction of the new rules which would tidy up the industry.
"We've been working on this with MNZ for probably a decade now so it's long overdue." He said he didn't expect the new rules would cost the business much and said mandatory driver log books were already standard practice.
Ngai Tahu Tourism southern region jetboating manager Clark Scott said Shotover Jet also supported the new legislation.
"Everything about it is really positive.
"As an industry we've been wanting licences for a prolonged period."
Skippers Canyon Jet managing director Ben Hohneck echoed the sentiments of Mr Scott and said they also supported the new rules.
Tourism Industry Association chief executive Martin Snedden said the Government's decision to introduce the licence and competency checks for drivers supported work being done by the TIA, the industry and other organisations to ensure tourism operators run a safe operation.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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