Minister of State, Mrs. Dawn Hastings-Williams, yesterday morning, joined Air Services Limited (ASL) Guyana at the launch of their Cuyuni Mazaruni (Region Seven)-scheduled service, which will cater to the needs of several communities in the Upper and Middle Mazaruni.
The service, which will be available every Tuesday and Thursday, will cater to residents of Kamarang, Imbaimadai, Phillipai, Chi Chi East, Chi Chi West, Paruima, Kaikan and Ekereku Bottom, among others. Previously, flights were only available to these villages through a charter, which is very costly.
Minister Hastings-Williams, who hails from Kako Village, Region Seven, in her remarks, said that she is quite pleased to see the introduction of the scheduled flights, since it is oftentimes difficult for residents to travel from their villages to Georgetown and vice versa.
“I wish to congratulate you, because you have taken a bold step at this time of the year. I think this is a Christmas gift to our brothers and sisters in the Upper Mazaruni. Having been born in Region Seven and growing up there, I have recognised that one of the biggest challenges we have in getting from the City to the Mazaruni is the mode of transportation.
I can say that this demonstrates that you are very serious about your role in bridging the gaps in terms of services between the hinterland and the coastland. Air Services as a private entity, has taken the role. You are showing and telling us that you are very serious in what you do. On behalf of the Government, I want to say thank you for coming in to partner with us to provide critical services to the people,” she said.
The Minister noted that the Government is committed to ensuring that every citizen of Guyana has access to services, and it is therefore important for the existing gaps between the coastland and the hinterland to be reduced. This is one way, she noted, that these gaps are being bridged.
She further stated that the scheduled service will improve the lives of residents, by allowing tourism to take place and farming produce to be transported.
“The President is always talking about bridging the gap between the hinterland and the coastland, and when he speaks about that, he is not talking about just roads, bridges and aerodromes, but Information and Communication Technology (ICT) hubs as well.
With services like Wi-Fi available in these areas, especially at the top of Mount Roraima where ASL is offering helicopter rides to tourists, you can promote the country from there. So, there are so many opportunities that can be had from bridging these gaps and offering these services. I know the people are excited. This will mean so much to the residents and also help in the development of the communities, tourism and agriculture,” the Minister said.
Minister within the Ministry of Public Infrastructure with responsibility for Aviation, Mr. Jaipaul Sharma, in brief remarks said that the company must indeed be commended for the step it has taken to extend its services to communities that are presently underserved. He noted that the investment speaks not only to the company’s confidence in the economy, but also demonstrates a commitment to serving all Guyanese.
“The achievement that Air Services has had over the past 50 years and their contributions to building our hinterland communities is no small achievement. When these flights come on board, it will add so much to the residents, because chartering itself is very expensive and it is not something you can always do, because you have to wait on the funds to be available. So, with the scheduled flights, the residents can now plan their lives, livelihoods and activities in a more programmed way,” he said.
Minister Sharma said that with the Government through the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) announcing VAT-free flights to numerous indigenous communities, residents will now be able to access the service for less.
Manager of ASL, Mrs. Annette Arjoon- Martins, in her remarks, said that the company was started 50 years ago in a little wooden shed. From then to now, she noted, ASL has made great strides and is pleased to now add the region to its roster.
The Manager noted that at present, the company offers helicopter trips to the top of Mount Roraima and tourists have been clamouring to visit other parts of the region as well. She therefore anticipates that with the introduction of the new flights, a tourism product which will be beneficial to the entire region, can be developed.
Meanwhile, Mr. Lee Williams, Toshao of Paruima, said that he is most pleased with the service coming on board, since it will significantly assist his community as well others to boost their tourism and farming products.
“We have to charter flights usually and so we are happy and I have to commend Air Services. Paruima has the only Arecuna people in Guyana so it is unique and we are trying to develop our tourism product to bring economic activities in our community. So now this service is here, it can really boost our tourism,” he said.
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