As time progresses and with no certainty of having a ferry service back in operation at the Canawaima Ferry Stelling at Moleson Creek, persons leaving Guyana for Suriname have been using a new system.
A visit to the stelling saw no activity with just a few security personnel and a woman who directed queries to authorities in Georgetown. This publication was also denied entry to the departure and arrival area ostensibly because the person in charge is not available.
At the back-track location at Number 78 Village, Corentyne, Berbice, it was evident that business had increased. There was a flurry of persons waiting for the speedboat to take them over to Suriname.
One passenger, a businessman named Raj, told reporters that he lives in Suriname but also spends a lot of his time in Guyana. He added that he would normally come over to Guyana with his car but since the ferry service has been down, he has been forced to travel without it.
The businessman said that although a profit was gained from the ferry service, it is unfortunate that the profit could not be used to maintain the ferry before it reached a state where it was no longer operable.
He suggested privatisation. “They should privatise the ferry and have an investor to buy over the boat. I could buy over the ferry and put it into operation but Surinamese talking something else and Guyanese talking something else.”
A frequent traveller said that the Canawaima Ferry before it completely stopped working, was running on one engine since the second engine had shut down. A tug was used to assist the ferry across the waters.
According to the businessman, “Dem na service the engine. Only last year one propeller fall overboard and on to now dem don’t have money to repair that. It’s disappointing to know that this is what the ferry has come to. It is time for them to consider and work to build a bridge.”
Mohammed Mursaline, called “Golden Gloves”, is the owner of the back-track operations.
“Since (the ferry) has been down, we have had an increase in passengers because Suriname and Guyana have agreed to stamp people with the normal procedure showing yellow fever card and so forth.
“We have all the enforcement agencies here who normally check the bags, passport,” Mursaline said.
He further explained that before the ferry service was halted, there was no stamping unless in the case of an emergency (funerals etc). On a daily basis , the backtrack route saw between 60 and 70 persons traversing but with the increase in travellers, they are now seeing over 100 persons travelling, with several boats in operation.
The proprietor stated that persons before leaving the back-track route for Suriname, are stamped out at the Immigration Office at Republic Square, Springlands, Corriverton. At the location, a boat owner working the Guyana/Suriname route disclosed that the process has not been as difficult as expected, although it takes a while to get stamped out.
Nearly 100 Haitians were seen waiting in buses to be moved off to the back-track entry and departure point after their passports were stamped. The process was described as “smooth with no major issues” by the boat owner.
Regional Chairman David Armogan had stressed that the ferry should not have been neglected to a point where it had to have an emergency shutdown. He opined that the ferry should have been maintained continuously which would have ultimately avoided a halt to services.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs recently stated that the Government of Guyana has been standing most of the maintenance of the vessel.
The MV Canawaima Ferry Service has been down for nearly three weeks with the MV Sandaka assisting for only three days. It has since returned to Suriname. Only speedboats from Suriname and Guyana are currently working.
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