–as Canawaima ferry prepares for return on October 24
EFFECTIVE Monday, October 11, 2021, the M.B. Sandaka, which is temporarily plying the Guyana to Suriname route, will increase its twice weekly trips to three – Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
This was one of the decisions taken during a stakeholders’ meeting led by Guyana’s Minister of Public Works, Juan Edghill, and his Surinamese counterpart, Albert Jubithana.
The meeting, which also included directors from the Boards of the Canawaima Management Company and the Canawaima Ferry Service Incorporated, agreed that subject to a joint final inspection and approval from regulatory maritime authorities, the Canawaima Ferry, which is currently docked for repairs, will resume daily service from October, 24, 2021.
According to a release issued by the government’s Department of Public Information, the increased trips will continue to be executed in accordance with all COVID-19 regulations from the health authorities in both countries.
Additionally, it was agreed that a joint Terms of Reference will be drafted and advertised for the hiring of a consultant to assess the booking systems with a view to propose an online booking platform.
The authorities also discussed the need for auditing of the ferry company’s accounts, as well as several management, operational and financial matters to improve the service, and the overall management of the ferry service.
In addressing the gathering, Minister Edghill informed the delegation that it is important to have a service where there is greater level of accountability, transparency and shared information.
Under these objectives, the minister stressed the need for a new approach on how the Canawaima Ferry is managed and dealt with.
Notwithstanding previous issues, Minister Edghill promised that under the new administrations of both countries, a new approach and co-operation built on shared partnership will be instituted.
The minister also lauded his counterpart for embracing this approach, and hailed the existing relationship that has been created by Presidents of the two countries – Guyana’s Dr. Irfaan Ali and Suriname’s Chandrikapersad Santokhi.
“At the end of the day, it is about the interest of the people of both countries and as such the transportation system linking both sides must be developed,” Minister Edghill posited.
The ferry, which plies the Moleson Creek, Corentyne to South Drain, Suriname route, recommenced its service on February 21, 2021, after being suspended for almost an entire year, owing to the coronavirus pandemic.
Even though Guyana’s major airports and borders had reopened, the resumption of the Guyana-Suriname ferry service was stalled after it was reported that a number of Cuban refugees had been camping out at the Suriname end of the border, waiting to travel to Guyana. It is believed that the Cubans had intended to use Guyana as a trans-shipment point to the United States of America.
After that situation was resolved, the ferry service resumed, using the M.B. Sandaka, since the Canawaima ferry was docked for repairs.
For years, the Guyana-Suriname ferry service served as a critical and legal link between the two countries, mutually improving economic and cultural relations.
Without the ferry service, scores of persons in Suriname and Guyana usually resort to the alternative “backtrack” route.