Government’s Transport and Harbours Department (T&HD) says that it lost 55% of its income last year after the opening of the Berbice Bridge.
As a result, 93 persons had to either be transferred or sent home. With the Berbice River crossing one of the biggest earners for T&HD, it limited the department’s capability to pay its fuel bill last year, one of its biggest expenditure. As a result, government had to allocated an additional $200M in budgetary support in December to pay for fuel and NIS commitments for employees.
Last year, T&HD earned $409M. Some 303,000 passengers made use of the T&HD vessels, bringing in revenues of $68M while 48,000 crossed earning $126M for the department. The big earner was cargo with $215M earned from 102,000 tonnes being transported.
Yesterday, General Manager (ag), Kevin Trim, at a press briefing at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) to highlight the department’s troubled year, said that there was difficulty in paying salaries and undertaking emergency repairs and routine maintenance to vessels and infrastructure.
However, there were some positives. Two large ferry vessels were sent to service the Essequibo River area, boosting traffic to Bartica and the Parika/Adventure run.
The department was able to dock for repairs three of its vessels, the MV Lady Northcote; ML Thompson and MV Makouria.
Some $27M in navigational aids were contracted out and supplied last year along with supply spares for vessels to the tune of $286M with the MV Barima, MV Kimbia and MV Turani all being docked for emergency repairs.
This year, Trim said, the department will be launching the stelling at Supenaam that will not only reduce commuters’ time from Parika by as much as two hours, but will reduce spending on fuel. Minister of Public Works, Robeson Benn, last week estimated savings at $1M per week in fuel for the T&HD.
Critical works to repair the department’s offices and buildings across the country will be done and there will also be an improvement of the speed boat berthing facilities at Bartica.
Trim also disclosed that the department will be seeking to reduce the return or turnaround time of vessels plying the North West route and will be re-opening the Berbice River service.
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