– Guyana flag hoisted, national anthem played
Local officials are baffled by what appears to be an unofficial official opening of the Takatu Bridge yesterday.
Officials from the Brazilian town of Bon Fin and the State of Roraima were on hand for a ribbon cutting ceremony, which took place on the bridge itself minus representatives from the Guyana government and the Region Nine Administration.
The flags of both Guyana and Brazil were hoisted on the bridge and a Brazilian military band, which gave the impression that the ceremony was official, played both countries’ national anthems.
The bridge was scheduled to be commissioned on April 27 but due to logistical problems on the Guyana side this deadline was not met.
However from all appearances, some took it upon themselves to open the facility.
According to reports coming from Lethem, vehicles have begun to use the bridge with taxis from Guyana carrying persons from the Guyana side of the border.
A source in Lethem said that the pontoon, which normally ferries vehicles across the Takatu River, was grounded.
According to reports it was announced during the ceremony yesterday that the bridge would be open to traffic from 08:00 to 20:00 hours daily.
Also, during the ceremony, one Brazilian official highlighted the cooperation between the two countries.
“Our promise has been fulfilled. From now on Brazil and Guyana are together,” the official said in Portuguese.
When contacted last evening Foreign Affairs Minister Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett told Kaieteur News that as far as the government of Guyana is concerned, the ceremony did not represent the official opening of the bridge.
She said that local authorities were in receipt of no communication that the bridge was being commissioned.
According to Rodrigues-Birkett, after contacting the Brazilian Ambassador to Guyana she was informed that there might have been some celebrations by the town city of Bon Fin, which was recently gazetted by the Brazilian government as a Port of Entry.
“We have brought the situation to the attention of the Brazilian Ambassador,” Minister Rodrigues-Birkett told this newspaper.
The Foreign Affairs Minister said that the Brazilian Ambassador has undertaken to contact his superiors in Brazil to ascertain what really transpired.
“The Brazilian Ambassador is baffled. This was not done through diplomatic channels,” she added.
She said that both governments have agreed to work on a new date for the official opening of the bridge.
With regards to the hoisting of the Guyana flag during the ceremony the Minister said that this is being investigated.
“We are investigating how it happened and who is responsible. Certainly the Region was not involved,” Minister Rodrigues-Birkett stated.
This newspaper understands that a Guyanese businesswoman from Lethem was integrally involved in the ceremony.
There are reports that the Regional Chairman had objected to the ceremony during a meeting with some Brazilian officials on Saturday.
A senior police official told this newspaper that they were aware that a ceremony had taken place but as far as the local security forces are concerned the bridge has not been officially opened.
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