Regional ferry service to operate out of Parika – Pres Ali

…announces processing facility for Bonasika

The new regional ferry service which is being facilitated through a joint venture between the Governments of Guyana, Barbados, and Trinidad and Tobago will be operated out of Parika, East Bank Essequibo (EBE) when it comes on stream.
This announcement was made by President Dr Irfaan Ali on Tuesday during engagements with residents of Bonasika Creek, Essequibo River.
At the time, the Guyanese Leader was highlighting the growing agricultural potential of the community, which is part of an effort to produce more food and meet the regional demand for commodities across the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

The Galleons Passage to be used

According to President Ali, the production of ground provisions, vegetables, and fruits is set to increase in Bonasika Creek, and other Region Three communities and as such, noted that it is viable to operate the ferry out of the major port in Parika.
“The good thing about here is that we can export directly to CARICOM… you don’t need to transport the goods to Georgetown and all these places. That is why we are pushing so hard to get the regional ferry because the regional ferry will operate out of Parika so that we can have all of these productions from all of these islands (in the Essequibo River) integrated into the regional market.”
New processing facility
To further complement the production of food when the ferry service comes on stream, Ali announced that a new processing facility will be constructed in Bonasika Creek so that farmers can tap into a more lucrative market.
According to statistics provided by the Agriculture Ministry, farmers in Bonasika have produced a total of 50 tonnes of bananas, 200 pounds of pumpkin, and 120 tonnes of cassava and other produce for this year so far. Additionally, more than 240,000 pounds of ginger have been produced.
President Ali explained that the processing facility coupled with the regional ferry service will see Guyana being able to satisfy the region’s demands.
“You are making use of the investments we are making and we’re proud of this but we have to triple this production… and we are going to support you tripling this production…We are going to build, in this area, a processing facility so we can take the fresh ginger, dry it, and crush it so we can extend the storage time from weeks to months and access higher value markets with the ginger,” President Ali added.
In January of this year, it was reported that the Trinidad and Tobago Cabinet had approved the use of that country’s Galleons Passage vessel to operate the ferry service between the twin-island republic and Guyana.
The vessel can accommodate 400 passengers and 60 cars. Among the facilities onboard are a cafeteria, a bar, and a VIP lounge.
On January 5, Ali announced that Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, and Barbados had formed a joint company that would work towards the introduction of a ferry system for passengers and cargo between the three countries.
Back in May 2022, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago had embarked on setting up a ferry service between the two countries to transport people and cargo. During a joint press conference between President Ali and T&T’s Prime Minister, Dr Keith Rowley in Georgetown, the two nations had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for cooperation in several areas.
“As we speak to you now, we are already exploring the possibility of having a cargo-plus-ferry facility as an experiment between Guyana and Trinidad, moving people and goods … We cannot address any issues unless we create a platform, the vehicle that will allow us to do that, and this MoU does that,” President Ali had noted.
Regional leaders have also long recognised that affordable intra-regional travel remains one of the major bugbears to trade and movement of skilled labour within the Caribbean. Consequently, they have been working on a regional ferry network.
In 2022, the Caribbean Community (Caricom) had approached the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for funding to establish this intra-regional ferry service. At the time, the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) was tasked with ironing out a proposed roadmap study for a fast ferry service with an initial focus on trade between Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, and Barbados.
According to a communiqué at the end of the 43rd Regular Meeting of the Caricom Heads of Government, held in July 2022 in Suriname, it was noted that this initiative falls into the myriad of measures agreed to by the Region’s leaders to advance the reduction of the Caribbean’s food-import bill by 25 per cent by the year 2025.