The proposal by President Bouterse of Suriname that we should construct a bridge to span the river that separates us – the Corentyne – while there are a host of outstanding issues between us, should remind us of the saying that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. The bird in question, of course, is the Takutu Bridge that has already been constructed by Brazil – which country has never placed any pressures on us about the demarcation of borders.
Nature had created our country on the continent of South America – in fact our Guyana Shield is one of the oldest formations on planet earth – but the history of a mere few centuries had conspired to convince us that we were one of the islands of the “West Indies”. The picture of the completed Takutu Bridge should remind us of our continental destiny.
And what is that destiny going to be? Well at a minimum it will be one where we will be much more physically integrated into the rest of South America, starting with the fact that we should now be able to now drive from our coast onto the highway network of Brazil. From there we can drive, if we so choose, to Patagonia in southern Argentina or via the Pan-American Highway, to the USA and Canada up north. This inter-connectiveness is not fortuitous but is the vision of the leadership of our South American neighbours: in the global world that is evolving, the synergy generated is the difference between stagnation and progress.
But for us to fully reap the benefits of the new linkages there is much that we will have to do. Firstly there is the trade that can be developed immediately with northern Brazil in at least two of the major crops that we cultivate – sugar and rice. While at first glance it may sound like shipping coals to Newcastle, the Brazilian sugar that swamps the world market is shipped from their northeast that is much farther away from Manaus and northern Brazil than from us. Then there is the need for almost a million tons of rice – their staple, like ours, annually. But for us to take advantage of these markets, the road between Linden and Lethem will have to be brought up to modern highway specifications.
The funding for such a highway has been taken up by Brazilians themselves – and we should not lose this opportunity. Their willingness does not arise from any spirit of altruism, but from their century-old desire to have access to a port on the North Atlantic. They would then be in a position to ship their goods from their northern factories, worth some US$8 billion, destined for North America and Europe at a cheaper rate than at present. The ancillary benefits to us, apart from the direct transit fees, would be considerable: packaging plants, trucking and storage services etc.
There is the not unreasonable worry among some in our leadership and ordinary citizenry that increased linkages with our continental neighbours would mean that we would soon be overrun with strange people speaking in babbling tongues. We are not so sure of this eventuality since the Brazilians have had little success in attracting settlers to their savannahs contiguous to ours – even after providing considerable incentives. Then there would be the easier entry for Colombian drugs. But be as it may, we will not be able to stop increased integration, nor should we even desire to do so: the answer is to establish stricter control over our borders. This need does not only exist at our southern border but even in the west and east and suggests, as several commentators have done, a role for our Army and its nascent air wing.
The time that would be necessary to complete the Linden-Lethem highway – when we can expect the increased cross-border trade to become significant – offers us a window of opportunity to get our house in order. We will need to increase the capacity of Port Georgetown and develop the deep-harbour ports we have planned for Berbice and Essequibo. This can be done in tandem with the highway development.
Apr 01, 2020By Sean Devers As the world copes with the unprecedented and continuously evolving threat of the Coronavirus athletes world-wide have faced training and competition disruptions that would undoubtedly...
Apr 01, 2020
Mar 31, 2020
Mar 31, 2020
Mar 31, 2020
Mar 31, 2020
The government passes a motion in parliament which carries weight, though the resolution isn’t made into legislation.... more
By Sir Ronald Sanders On 20 March 2020, a reckless and irresponsible General Assembly (GA) was held by the Organization... more
Editor’s Note, If your sent letter was not published and you felt its contents were valid and devoid of libel or personal attacks, please contact us by phone or email.
Feel free to send us your comments and/or criticisms.
Contact: 624-6456; 225-8452; 225-8458; 225-8463; 225-8465; 225-8473 or 225-8491.
Or by Email: [email protected] / [email protected]