–as authorities allocated $50M for additional work
THE Government of Guyana will be injecting another $50 million to further improve accessibility at the Supenaam Stelling, located near the village of Good Hope, in Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam).
The announcement was made on Friday afternoon by Public Works Minister, Bishop Juan Edghill, who was at the time accompanying President Dr. Irfaan Ali on a massive two-day Cabinet outreach in Essequibo, and several of its nearby riverine areas.
According to Minister Edghill, the additional works will satisfy three particular needs that the residents and stelling users have had, and long complained about. The first has to do with improved parking capacity for persons leaving the Supenaam port.
“Persons who drive their vehicles to catch the speedboat to go to Georgetown and return on the same day, [they have] a difficulty with parking; you need to have your parking in a safe area, so that you can go and come back,” the minister said.
He said that within the coming months, the government, via the Public Works Ministry, will be specifically creating a space for parking.
“That’s going to be completed before the end of this year,” Edghill posited.
He said tenders for developmental works within the area were opened just a few days ago, and that the evaluation and awards of the related contracts are imminent.
Secondly, Edghill said that the ministry has been receiving multiple complaints relating to the “steepness” of the stelling ramp, and that this, too, will be remedied.
“Where the ramps are, almost in the channel,” the Public Works Minister noted.
In providing more specific details, Edghill said that the government will be moving to procure, from an overseas supplier, a floating ramp.
“…So, as the tides go up and come down, the boats will be able to comfortably moor, and we would be able to enter and exit [the boats] in a safe manner,” Edghill said.
Thirdly, he related that the additional works will also address some of the difficulties that speedboat operators plying the route usually face.
One of the more pressing issues, according to Edghill, has to do with affording speedboat operators easier and more convenient access to the gas station. He said that efforts will be made to ensure the installation of steps and a separate ramp leading to the fuel pump.
BOOKING A FERRY ONLINE
Aside from enhancing the infrastructure at the stelling, Edghill said that the ministry, along with its Maritime Administration Department (MARAD), is also working to improve efficiency of the ferry service, which continues to be bombarded by unregulated vehicle and passenger traffic.
As a remedy, Edghill and his team are eyeing the establishment of a platform to allow for electronic bookings.
Emphasising the need for such a system, Edghill said that due to an influx of persons wanting to board the ferry, the operators are often forced to increase the ferry’s three trips to as much as seven in some cases.
Once the booking system goes Online, the minister said that persons wanting to travel will be able to have hassle-free access to key ferry information such as daily ooccupancy rates and schedule.
Additionally, in an effort to improve river transport in its entirety, Edghill said the high costs of new boat engines is something that would have to be examined, and, perhaps, remedied.
The minister went further to inform President Ali that due to its lower costs, many riverine residents have been purchasing used engines from abroad, instead of new ones; this, he said, attracts significantly higher maintenance costs. It was then announced that residents’ request for measures to lower the cost will be examined.
PREVENTION IS BEST
Outside of remedying faults, Minister Edghill said that his ministry is also keen on taking a proactive approach to examining areas of potential threat, so that those issues can be prevented.
“We have implemented a system of surveillance,” the minister said, adding that the operations of “rangers” have also been reintroduced.
These rangers, according to the Public Works Minister, will walk the length of the sea defences to identify potential risks.
Additionally, Edghill reminded that the region has benefitted from a number of significant road works within the past year. It was only recently that the government announced that it spent some $123.5 million on rehabilitating a number of community roads.
During this year alone, the government has plans to expend some $172.4 billion, or 45 per cent of its $383.1 billion budget on education, public infrastructure, and healthcare. Of this sum, $58.2 billion worth of planned expenditure on public infrastructure is the second largest component of the government’s fiscal programme.
On the capital side, the budget for infrastructure is $32.9 billion, or 32 per cent of the total allocation for 2021. The country’s aggregate capital provision for this year is $103 billion.
Further, the government’s total budget for road programmes is $23.7 billion, $7.9 billion of which will go specifically towards the development of community roads. Of the budgeted sum, $2.1 billion has been set aside for hinterland roads, and the rehabilitation of a number of hinterland airstrips.