Wear a life jacket to Feast of Assumption, Seychellois officials implore the public
File photo: La Digue jetty. (Gerard Larose, Seychelles Tourism Board)
(Seychelles News Agency) - People taking a small boat to travel to this year’s Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary should not board without a life jacket, a high official emphasised on Monday.
The event will take place on August 15 on La Digue, Seychelles’ third-most populated island. Seychelles’ security officials are joining forces to increase safety for the event.
“We are calling out to the public to not board a vessel if they do not have a life jacket on. It is a personal responsibility to do so and doing otherwise might put your life at risk,” said Joachim Valmont, the chief executive of the Seychelles Maritime Safety Administration (SMSA).
The event sees hundreds of people travel from the main islands of Mahe and Praslin to La Digue, to celebrate the Feast of the Assumption of Mary, the Patron Saint. The event is usually packed with activities.
Tightening of security during the days leading up to and after the feast came following two fatal boat accidents in 2016 and 2018.
Vehicle access to the port, especially on Praslin and La Digue, will be limited during the days leading up to, on the day and after the event. Mariners are advised to let the relevant authority know when they leave and arrive at their destinations.
Monitoring will be conducted at exit and entrance points of the three main islands, as well as at sea. Vessels will be stopped and inspected at designated checkpoints where officers will check if all on board are wearing life jackets and if the vessel is not overcrowded.
“Monitoring will happen around the clock at sea. We are aware that there are a lot of boats that are involved in transporting passengers to La Digue and we are asking mariners with vessels measuring seven metres and below not to be at sea after 6.30 p.m. to 6.00 a.m.,” said Valmont.
He added that if a skipper is caught under the influence while operating a vessel, they will spend the night in detention.
Frederick Ladouceur Despeville, a member of the August 15 committee, said that they have been in contact with ferry operators to increase the frequency and number of trips to La Digue on the day of the event.
Organisers of the event have decided to cancel the traditional fibreglass boat racing as part of safety and security measure.
“We have removed the activity on the programme as we have seen that the race is becoming dangerous as there will be a lot of ferry movement as well as vessels mooring in the area,” said Ladouceur Despeville.
Ralph Agathine, the managing director of the Lifeguard Service, urges everyone to respect the sea.
“If the sea is too rough, do not go to La Digue for this August 15. A rough sea might cost you your life. There will be other chances to celebrate August 15,” he said.