Commuters using the Berbice River crossing between Rosignol and New Amsterdam will today stage a demonstration protesting docking of the pontoon, M.V. Sandaka, regarded as the most affordable transportation option. The protest is slated to be held at the Rosignol Stelling this morning
The pontoon that crosses the river Monday to Friday was forced out of service last Friday. Yesterday it was replaced by a contracted speedboat service, but travelers prefer to use the pontoon which is not only much cheaper, but also regarded as safer.
“I will be leading the protest. Commuters have asked me to lead it,” Alliance for Change Member of Parliament and Presidential Candidate, Khemraj Ramjattan, told Kaieteur News yesterday.
He said that officials working at the two stellings said that for a long time mechanics were advising that the pontoon was in need of maintenance and repairs but they were told by management of Transport and Harbours Department (T&HD) that no money will be forthcoming to remedy the vessel’s problems.
“It does appear to be a major breakdown, and will take a long time out of service,” Mr Ramjattan said.
Expressing alarm and concern AFC stated in a media release yesterday that school children travelling on the pontoon would normally pay $200 monthly, but, “Using the [private] speedboat mode, they would pay $120 per day while the mini buses charge a prohibitive $400 per day.
Parents are very aggrieved with this situation more so as the speed boat mode is deemed unsafe. They are disappointed and upset by the fact that the T&HD is not providing them with any information as to when the services of the Sandaka would be resumed.
“This situation is seriously compounded by the fact that pupils are currently sitting their end of year examinations.”
Kaieteur News was unable to get a comment on the issue from public officials. Stelling officials said they were not authorised to talk about it; an assistant to T&HD General Manager, Ms Merchant, said she was too busy to talk; Traffic Manager, Ms Jackson, was reportedly out of office, and her deputy, Stephan Skekel, said, “I would not be able to make a comment on that. The Traffic Manager would have information on that”; Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Public Works, and Communication Permanent Secretary, Balraj Balram did not return calls; and Minister Robeson Benn was out of office.
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