Jun 13, 2021 News
Kaieteur News- Cops stationed at Morawhanna, a small Atlantic Coast village located off the Barima River, Region One, on Wednesday removed at least 70 Venezuelan nationals from the MV Kimbia, which was bound for Georgetown.
The Venezuelans reportedly boarded the vessel around 08:00 hrs. from Kumaka, Mabaruma, a town that is also located in Region One. Mabaruma is in close proximity to the Aruka River, a border with neighbouring Venezuela.
One of the Venezuelans (name provided) who was taken off the vessel said that they were removed close to 10:00 hrs. She told Kaieteur News that she was heading to Georgetown along with her three nephews, ages two, five and nine to meet up with relatives living there.
The Venezuelans reportedly assembled themselves under a shed known as the Kumaka Bond early that morning and purchased their tickets and paid freight fees for their luggage. The cost for a ticket is $2,000 per child and $3,000 per adult and the freight fee is determined by the quantity of luggage carried by each passenger.
The woman said that in order to travel she had to be legally documented. She claimed that she had obtained the documents required days prior to the trip for both herself and her nephews. The document she was speaking about was a legal permission granted by the Immigration Department of the Guyana Police Force (GPF) for a three-month stay in the country.
With documents in hand, she said, they boarded the MV Kimbia with their six suitcases, one hammock and two mattresses around 8:00 hrs. The vessel departed Kumaka and made a stop on the way at Morawhanna to pick up more passengers heading to Georgetown. At the Morawhanna landing, police officers boarded the vessel and ordered that all Venezuelans must disembark.
“Nos dijeron que todos los Venezolanas tienen que bajar y que los Venezolanos no van para Georgetown (They told us that all the
Venezuelans must come off and that the Venezuelans are not going to Georgetown),” she said.
At least 70 Venezuelans, Kaieteur News was told were removed from the vessel. The female migrant said that they were given no reason as to why they were ordered to disembark.
She claimed that they (herself and other Venezuelans) had asked the ranks and crewmen working on MV Kimbia, what needed to be done for them to continue their journey.
“Nos dijeron que tenemos que volver a pagar (They told us we have to pay again),” the migrant told Kaieteur News.
She continued that they explained to the officers and the crew that they had already paid in Kumaka and they have no more money left. The authorities there reportedly responded that if that is the case, then they can’t go. As a result, recalled the woman, they were ordered to remove all their belongings from the MV Kimbia as quickly as possible.
Video recording seen by this media house from their cellphones showed scores of Venezuelans including children, removing their belongings from the vessels in the rain. Some were seen grabbing
their bags, while others – some of whom were children – were seen fetching their mattresses on their heads as they disembarked.
Kaieteur News learnt that they had asked for a refund of their passage but this was denied and the vessel departed for Georgetown leaving them stranded on the Morawhanna landing for hours in the rain. They remained stranded until word got to Mabaruma and certain authorities of that town intervened in the matter.
The intervention by the
authorities reportedly forced police in Mabaruma to send boats for the stranded Venezuelans. After hours of waiting, they were crammed into some long wooden boats and transported back to the Region One town. Some of them alleged, however, that the return trip to Mabaruma was not a free one and that they had to pay $500 per person.
Speaking with Kaieteur News yesterday, Commander of Region One, Khalid Mandall, said that an investigation from all angles has been launched into the removal of the Venezuelans from the vessel. He said that statements are currently being taken from all parties involved. The Commander noted that there is a policy that foreigners travelling to Georgetown must be properly documented or have their legal documents and fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
So far, related Mandall, it is being alleged that some of the Venezuelans on board the MV Kimbia that day were not legally documented. He assured that as soon as the investigations are over, a detailed report will be prepared and issued by the GPF concerning the matter. There are some 800 or more Venezuelan migrants residing in Mabaruma presently.
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