By Chevon Farley
GEORGETOWN, Guyana, (DPI) – The ministry of public works, on Tuesday, inked contracts valued $961,364,096 for marine transportation development to promote safety on the waterways. The contracts signing was facilitated by minister, Juan Edghill, M.P, minister Deodat Indar, M.P and permanent secretary, Vladim Persaud at the ministry’s Kingston office, Georgetown.
From the monies allocated, $320,383,632 will be used to procure 24 regular pontoons and four large pontoons for ongoing works on the Demerara Harbour Bridge.
For the Transport and Harbours Department (T&HD), a contract was signed to the tune of $457,900,561 for the acquisition of spares and the docking of MV Sabanto and MV Kanawan, also known as the Chinese ferries that ply the Parika/Supenaam routes.
In the Maritime Administration Department (MARAD), contracts totalling $183,079,903 were signed to enhance safety on the waterways.
Minister Edghill said the ministry will continue to work towards attaining water safety as much as it does road safety.
“Maritime safety is becoming a big issue in Guyana, and just like how we have been emphasising road safety and better use of the roads, we have had too many incidents for this year on our waterways.
“We have to step up our game whether it is fishermen, tug and barge operators, merchant ships, speed boat operators or what we call water taxis. We have to step up our game in terms of safety.We have to be able to improve on that and navigational aids, guides and it is not just in our Supenaam/ Parika route, but we got to deal with our Pomeroon River. We have to deal with the Berbice River all across, so we want to be able to improve on that.”
Meanwhile, the public works minister said during a recent trip to Regions Five and Six, scores of residents asked for the restoration of water taxis that ply the Berbice river. Operations were halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Following the visit, the ministry through T&HD with the support of the Maritime Department will repair and refurbish damaged water taxis in an effort to provide relief to pensioners and school children in a few weeks’ time.
“Safety is important, that is why we are not going to put the water taxis with the leakage back in the river. We have to make sure having been out of the waters for two years, we get them properly sealed or as the sailor man would say, corked properly, and get them properly painted and make sure we have all the safety gears and so on in place. We ask that you be patient, we heard your cry and your concerns and those water taxis are going to be back in service shortly,” minister Edghill stated.