Four days after running aground on Wakenaam Island, authorities says that the
MV SABANTO, was back in the water yesterday. The Chinese-built vessel will be placed into operation today with another crew in control, the Transport and Harbours Department announced.
On Sunday, shortly after midnight, the vessel which was en route to Supenaam from Parika, somehow ploughed into Wakenaam, an island located on the Essequibo River. There were no injuries but horrified passengers were forced to wait until daybreak before water taxis that ply the route arrived and took them off. Most of the vehicles on board were removed Monday and Tuesday with the last one being taken off yesterday when the vessel docked at the Supenaam wharf, Essequibo Coast yesterday.
Marclene Merchant, Transport and Harbours Department (T&HD) General Manager, confirmed that the vessel came off on its own power around 16:00 hrs yesterday.
“The tide was high [2.88 metres], so the vessel was able to come off without us having to utilize tugs,” she stated.
The Ministry of Public Works had initially announced that it was aiming for this weekend’s high tide to remove the vessel.
According to Merchant, checks indicate there was no damage to the vessel.
“In light of this, MV SABANTO will resume its operation under the command of another crew tomorrow (this) morning, November 21, at its scheduled time.”
T&HD said that investigations into the incident are still ongoing.
Earlier this week, authorities said that they are investigating reports that senior employees of the ferry were drinking earlier in the day. According to persons close to the investigation, they have received reports that employees were consuming alcohol in the Parika area.
The incident would be a highly embarrassing one for the Transport and Harbours Department as the Sabanto was one of two vessels donated to Guyana by China back in January 2012.
Reports indicated that around 120 passengers were on the vessel which left Parika around 23:45 hrs Sunday. The vessel was about two miles into its journey when the mishap occurred.
Caught on the vessel was an ambulance assigned to the Suddie Public Hospital. It had earlier taken a heart patient to the Georgetown Public Hospital.
The ferries provide a critical link between the city and Essequibo Coast, for goods, farm produce and passengers.
A passenger on the other Chinese ferry, the KANAWAN, said she was with her family heading to Parika around midnight when the ferry suddenly turned around. They had passed the SABANTO a short while before. At Wakenaam they came upon the shocking sight of the SABANTO stuck on the island.
The KANAWAN attempted to pull the stuck vessel from the bushes but in vain.
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