School children stranded due to ban on shuttle flights
By Devina Samaroo
The Head Mistress of the Chenapou Primary School in Region 8 may now have to paddle for two days in order to reach home for the new school term as the normal route has been disrupted in light of the suspension on shuttle flights.
Representative of the Amerindian People’s Association (APA), Michael McGarrell told News Room during an exclusive interview that the educator left Ogle for the Kaieteur Falls on Thursday morning but because of the ban of fuel in there, she may have to paddle home.
He also explained that school children from Chenapou and Karisparu attending school in Mahdia are left stranded as the main way out of those communities is by air; the other possible routes are treacherous and take days.
Other areas such as Kurukabaru and Kato will be affected because even though domestic flights traverse those locations, operators only do so until they receive a minimum number of passengers.
Additionally, he said there are children and teachers who have to return to the Sand Creek Secondary School in Region 9, however they will be left stranded in Region 8 until the shuttle services resume.
The APA representative further explained that the dormitory at the Paramakatoi Secondary School depends on the shuttle flights for supplies and given the ban, it may face difficulties in providing for children staying there.
McGarrell said Region 8 (Potaro Siparuni) will most likely face the most challenges in the absence of the shuttling operations because it is the hardest region to logistically get around.
“Region Eight is filled with mountains and it is impossible to really put roads through the mountains. There are some roads which are accessible through Lethem but it takes a very long time to go through there and at the moment, the bridges are washed away,” he explained, noting that air transportation is the only option.
He noted too that the region is still grappling from the effects of the massive flood and without the shuttle operations, food supply will be a major concern.
“Communities are still trying to rebuild however there is an issue with cassava because after the floods, the rain continued and so there is a lot of water in the soil and this is causing the cassava in the farms to rot,” he explained, highlighting that this crop takes weeks to grow and that the communities depended on the shuttle operations for food supplies.
McGarrell said he understands the need for safety in the aviation sector but wished the Civil Aviation Authority had taken a different approach.
“I understand why the ban was put into place but at the same time I believe how it was put in place could have been done a little differently. Maybe some more time should have been given so that communities can plan for it and so that business people can plan for it as well,” he outlined.
The Authority announced Wednesday that it has suspended all shuttling operations into interior regions until aircraft operators have submitted documented procedures and policies for review and approval.
This forms a part of the probe into the three recent plane crashes in the interior, which claimed the lives of two pilots and injured another. Director General, Egbert Field said the ban will be lifted until all checks are done and the Authority is satisfied with the standards of the shuttling operations.
This will be the first time the Authority is moving to document the procedures and policies of shuttling operations in Guyana.