India EXIM Bank, Govt sign US$18M procurement agreement

– North West to get new ferry

Government, through the Finance Ministry, officially secured a US$18 million agreement to finance a new ferry to ply the Georgetown-Region One (Barima-Waini) route.

Finance Minister Winston Jordan and India Export-Import (EXIM) Bank resident representative Sailesh Prasad sign the 20-year agreement
Finance Minister Winston Jordan and India Export-Import (EXIM) Bank resident representative Sailesh Prasad sign the 20-year agreement

Finance Minister Winston Jordan said the signing essentially marked a US$10 million loan would be granted by the Government of India together with the US$8 million grant grant for the acquisition of an oceangoing vessel for the Georgetown-Region One route. The money will be provided to the Government of Guyana in two parts – the concessional loan of some US$10 million and a US$8 million grant.

Minister Jordan said that the new vessel would bring much-needed relief to residents in the area. “These resources will be used to facilitate the construction of the passenger and cargo vessels to provide river transportation to residents plying the route.”

According to the Minister, the other two vessels are very aged and in dire need of repair. He said over the years residents have been complaining about the negative impact of the service on their lives and livelihood. “The construction of this new cargo ferry is expected to provide improved services to these residents who commute regularly between Regions One and Four. This mode of transportation is also expected to provide a number of social and economic benefits to the two regions and the country as a whole,” he continued, noting that passengers and goods would now be moved at affordable prices in a safe, secure and reliable environment. “This new ferry vessel will increase efficiency in operation, by allowing passenger and freight to be conveyed more swiftly with fewer delays as a reduction in traffic time. It will allow for greater market access, where the economy of scale will improve through production, distribution and consumption, contributing to the economic growth of Guyana,” the Minister said.

He noted that the signing of the agreement was also another kind gesture in support of Guyana’s socio-economic development. He recalled signing earlier this year an agreement with the India EXIM Bank for the construction of the bypass road between Ogle on the East Coast of Demerara and Great Diamond on the East Bank of Demerara. Construction on the road is slated to commence in 2017. He said there were also a number of other areas of bilateral assistance being pursued with the Indian Government, including the establishment of a centre for excellence in technology, which would offer Information Communication Technology (ICT) training to members of the Public Sector.

Guyana’s Government will have a period of some 20 years to repay the loan. Meanwhile, Government is yet to procure the vessel. Also speaking, just before the signing ceremony, was Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson, who said the Transport and Harbours Department (TH&D) has been a very faithful servant to the people of Guyana over the years. He spoke too of the “aging vessels”, particularly the two that currently ply the Georgetown-Supenaam route. He said there were still a lot of Guyanese in these regions who depend on the services of the T&HD, to carry out their daily activities.

He reported on the MV Kimbia, which is currently down and awaiting repairs, while the MV Barima is expected to be up and running soon. The only vessel that is in operation, he reported, is the MV Lady Northcote. (Alexis Rodney)