Guyana, Suriname examining ways to resume ferry service

After being closed for over seven months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, authorities in Guyana and Suriname are now examining the possibility of resuming the MV Canawaima Ferry Service between the two countries.

(L-R) Guyanese Ministers Dr Frank Anthony, Juan Edghill and Hugh Todd with their Surinamese colleagues Ministers Albert Ramdin, Riad Nurmohamed and Amar Ramadhin at Thursday’s meeting in Georgetown (DPI photo)

Discussions in this regard were held during the recent working visit of a high-level ministerial delegation to Guyana. Surinamese Foreign Affairs, International Business and International Cooperation Minister, Albert Ramdin led the visiting team which also included Public Works Minister, Dr Riad Nurmohamed and Health Minister Amar Ramadhin, of Suriname.
On Thursday, they met with their Guyanese counterparts led by Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister Hugh Todd, who was accompanied by Public Works Minister Juan Edghill and Health Minister, Dr Frank Anthony.
In a joint statement on Friday, it was disclosed that the two sides agreed that the issues affecting the resumption of the MV Canawaima Ferry Service need to be urgently and jointed addressed in anticipation of the resumption of the movement of goods and people between South Drain and Moleson Creek.
“The Ministers noted the critical role that the Canawaima Ferry Service plays in people-to-people contact, bilateral tourism and trade between Guyana and Suriname. To this end, the bodies responsible for the Canawaima Ferry Service will be directed to immediately commence discussions and activities to ensure that the MV Canawaima is available for operations as soon as the Ministers of Health of Guyana and Suriname declare that it is safe to do so,” the joint missive detailed.
The Guyana-Suriname Ferry Service was closed since March 14, 2020 – days after the first COVID-19 case was recorded in Guyana, prompting the shutdown of all ports of entry. Only Monday, Guyana reopened its two airports to international commercial flights.
While the Guyana-Suriname Ferry Service is still closed, authorities in the two neighbour countries facilitated the repatriation of some 49 Guyanese who were stranded in Suriname. These persons who were transported via the MB Sandaka Ferry had to be tested negative for the novel coronavirus in order to gain entry back to their homeland.
Meanwhile, during Thursday’s meeting, the Guyanese and Surinamese Ministers reaffirmed their Governments commitment to strengthening the bonds of friendship as well as deepening and expanding cooperation between their two countries.
To this end, the Ministers took special note of the efforts at enhancing transportation, infrastructure, cooperation and integration links between Guyana and Suriname. They noted, according to the joint statement, that these are pivotal to the deepening of investment, trade, tourism and cultural relations between the two countries.
“Both sides expressed great satisfaction at the progress that has been made towards the in-depth consideration of the prerequisite activities for the studies, designing, financing and procurement of services for the construction of the Corentyne River Bridge,” the missive stated.
Last week, the Public Works Ministers from the two countries earmarked the landing sites for the Corentyne River Bridge on both sides. During Thursday’s meeting, the two sides were expected to finalise the details of the project for an agreement to be signed next month by the two Heads of State.
Meanwhile, the Ministers also agreed on the principles, strategies and modes by which the foundations for greater and mutually beneficial cooperation could be realised in the fields of agriculture, health, sustainable development, the promotion of binational tourism, joint marketing of goods and agricultural produce and sports and culture. They also discussed ways and means by which there could be capacity building exchanges in the areas of oil and gas.
With regard to the overall cooperation in health, the Ministers applauded the good working relationship between the health sectors of the two countries and pledged to pursue several initiatives that would enhance their collaboration and mutual assistance in the sector.
It was further stated that the two Foreign Ministers agreed on a set of proposals to be submitted to President Irfaan Ali and his Surinamese counterpart, President Chandrikapersaud Santokhi, for the optimal use of the Strategic Dialogue and Cooperation Platform (SDCP) that will be established in November.
In that context, they agreed that the thematic working groups under the SDCP will be directed to pursue realistic action programmes as well as find ways and means of removing several identified impediments to smooth and efficient legal cross border trade; the movement of vehicles transporting persons to and from each country, and seek ways and means of arresting transborder illegal activities.
Moreover, the two sides discussed the importance and relevance of exchanging views and positions on matters on the regional, hemispheric and global agendas with the intention of coordinating their positions, interventions, sponsorship of initiatives and resolutions in order to jointly form strategic alliances with other States where possible and mutually beneficial.
They took special note of the similarities of the positions of the two countries on matters such as climate change mitigation and compensation for the sustainable use and conservation of their large forests; environmental protection; and the classification of States as Middle-Income Countries (MIC) on the basis of limited criteria and its implications for accessing grants and concessional funding to meet developmental needs.
President Ali will be leading a delegation next month to attend Suriname’s 45th Independence Anniversary celebration.
During that visit, the two Heads of State will sign several agreements including one on the Corentyne River Bridge. This is following the visit of President Santokhi to Guyana back in August for President Ali’s inauguration. (G8)