US$$M Chinese roll on roll/off ferry…. ‘Kanawan’ commences operation from Parika
By Rabindra Rooplall
Vehicles and passengers boarded one of the multi-million-dollar Chinese-built roll on roll/off ferries, ‘Kanawan’ yesterday as it made its inaugural trip from Parika to the Supenaam Stelling.
General Manager of Transport and Harbours Department (TH&D) Marclene Merchant noted that the commuters are overjoyed that the ferry is in operation although the roll-on-roll-off facilities are not yet complete.
The commencement of operations yesterday will see a significant reduction in the build up of vehicles and commuters at the stellings. The Roll on Roll Off ferries, ‘Sabanto’ and ‘Kanawan’ vessels will be making one trip per day. They will be supported by one of the older ferries, either Mv Malali or Mv Torani, which will also travel from Parika and Supenaam but they will service the islands of Leguan and Wakenaam.
Noting that the Kanawan was not filled to capacity yesterday, Merchant said that most commuters were unaware that the ferry commenced its operations. As such, later in the week, the vessel use will be maximized. There will be more people and cargo.
Marine superintendent Captain Garfield Halley, who is piloting the vessel, said that the ferry will be taking approximately 90 minutes between Parika and Supenaam. This is about half the time the previous ferries took. The roll on/roll off ferries can seat 800 persons and can carry many more trucks and other vehicles.
The inaugural mooring has been declared as successful. The vessel can be moored from either end from which it can load or offload. This too will be tested in the coming days utilizing the varying river conditions.
The two vessels were acquired from China, with funding from a US$17M grant from the Chinese Government. Each ferry has three decks and can hold up to 800 persons, 44 cars, and 20 trucks. They can travel at a test speed of 12.5 knots.
The long awaited Roll on Roll Off Ferries, ‘Sabanto’ and ‘Kanawan’ arrived in Guyana last December.
To accommodate the ferries the Works Ministry had to upgrade the stellings at Parika and Supenaam. The contract was awarded to BK International, which modified the Parika Stelling at a cost $240.1 million and the Supenaam Stelling at a cost of some $138 million. The company had promised to complete both stellings within four months.
However this was not the reality since almost one year had passed before its completion.
BK International had won the initial contract to construct a stelling at Good Hope/Supenaam on the Essequibo Coast with a view to reducing the travel time between Parika and the Essequibo Coast.
Initially, it took more than four hours for the ferry to travel between Parika and Adventure. The government decided to limit the travel time under three hours by constructing the stelling at Supenaam. At a cost of more than $400 million BK International constructed the stelling which then remained idle for nearly two years.
But the need to get the stelling operational caused the government to inject money into the project. Earlier comments by the Works Minister pertaining to the delay in construction of the stelling by the management of BK International pertaining to the delay in construction of the stelling by the management of BK International did not go unnoticed. The construction company launched a scathing attack against the Works Minister only to apologise a few days later.
The Works Minister had blamed the company which in turn insisted that it performed according to the design specifications. The company also blamed the Works Ministry for contributing to the problem of the stelling by attempting modifications.