Alliance For Change (AFC) Chairman Khemraj Ramjattan yesterday criticised Minister of Agriculture Robert Persaud for his public declaration of the reopening of the illegal crossing to Suriname from Springlands, along the Corentyne River.
On August 17 last, Suriname had the ‘backtrack’ route between the two countries closed over fears that the plant disease, “Black Sigato”, which it claimed is rampant here, would enter the Dutch-Speaking Republic.
During a meeting between Minister of Agriculture Robert Persaud and his counterpart, Dr. Karamchand Ragoebarsingh and the Commissar of Nickerie, B. Shankar in Nickerie, Suriname had agreed to re-open the route.
“No Minister of Government should be heard publicly declaring that he has secured the opening of an illegal crossing that his government officially refuses to recognise as a legal crossing.”
Ramjattan, who was addressing the media at the time, recounted an incident that occurred less than one year ago, in which six people lost their lives, using the ‘backtrack’ route, after the boat in which they were travelling capsized. He reminded the media of how the administration all but refused to initiate search and rescue activities in an effort to render assistance to the victims of the capsized vessel.
“The administration intimated that there was no duty to provide search and rescue facilities because of the illegal nature of the crossing.”
Ramjattan is of the view that the recent development and utterance translates into agricultural trade taking precedence over the lives of the people of a country.
‘Agricultural trade was deemed important enough to warrant a Ministerial meeting to re-open the illegal crossing’, he further added that the administration should take the lives of citizens more seriously.
The AFC is of the opinion that the Government should make the ‘backtrack’ route between the two Republics legal.
‘Have the crossing from Springlands to Nickerie designated an official place of exit and entry, so as to relieve those who use the crossing of the agony of being deemed criminals, and ensure their safety and wellbeing.’
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