Guyana mulls owning ferry to ply Suriname route – Harmon

Following the recent suspension of the of MV Canawaima due to mechanical issues, the coalition Government is considering taking up the responsibility of putting a ferry to ply the route.
The key service operates based on a shared agreement between neighbours, Guyana and Suriname, who share the operations and jointly oversee the maintenance of the ferry plying the route between the two countries.
However, since the MV Canawaima, which plied the route, was hauled in for rehabilitation, the Guyana Government is now considering taking over the service.
“The question of whether a new vessel will go there and who’s going to have that – all of these will be a matter which we will have to sort out [with Suriname] … But this is a service which the people are depending on and if it becomes necessary, I believe our Minister of Public Infrastructure [David Patterson] has already started to contemplate whether, in fact, we may have to put a vessel there ourselves,” Harmon related at his weekly post-Cabinet press briefing on Friday.
He pointed out that the MV Canawaima has been experiencing issues with its engine for some time now. He said that the engine was limping and as such, was being towed by a tug before it was hauled in for repairs earlier this week.
According to Harmon, President David Granger and his Surinamese counterpart, President Dési Bouterse, had previously agreed on the appointment of “good officers” to oversee issues relating to the ferry service.
However, he noted that the two sides are currently in talks to iron out the issues.
“The Canawaima had a specific issue of funding and this is something that the two sides will have to work out. We have completed, we have done what we needed to do in so far as our obligations under the arrangement is concerned and so now it is a matter of getting our two sides together to sit down and recognise that this is a service which the people are depending on,” the Government’s spokesperson asserted.
The MV Canawaima Ferry was suspended on Monday last until further notice after it reportedly encountered mechanical issues, preventing it from servicing the Moleson Creek, Guyana – Nickerie, Suriname route.
Terminal Manager Gale Culley-Greene had stated that the Canawaima Ferry has been experiencing mechanical difficulties for some time now and a decision was taken to have the vessel assessed and repaired.
As such, the MB Sandaka was re-routed to now provide services between Guyana and Suriname. According to the Guyana/Suriname Ferry Service, the Sandaka will be in operation from Friday, May 31, 2019, up to Sunday, June 2.
It is expected to depart Moleson Creek Terminal-Guyana at 09:00h (check-in: 06:30h to 08:00h) and depart South Drain-Suriname at 11:30h (Check-in: 08:00h-10:00h) – their respective local times.
“This window was created to facilitate the return of passengers and vehicles stranded on both sides. Thereafter, the service will be suspended until further notice”, the Public Infrastructure Ministry stated.
In addition, it was revealed that the MB Sandaka cannot accommodate 20ft and 40ft containers and trucks with height and width in excess of 3 metres and 2.7 metres respectively. Earlier today, it was reported in sections of the media that more than 100 Guyanese were stranded in Suriname in light of the suspension of the ferry service.
However, with the ferry service between the two countries to be suspended until further notice, activities at the ‘backtrack’ route are expected to increase. Asked whether any systems will be put in place to monitor that location, Harmon pointed out that his Government will not facilitate any illegal movements.
Instead, he noted that the Guyana Government is looking into having legal systems in place to facilitate passengers.
“On our side, we will consider putting in place formal legal arrangements for persons leaving this country and to come back. We do not sanction backtrack operations that are unlawful and illegal,” he stressed.