With Canawaima down, Gov’t considering ‘legal arrangement’ at backtrack route

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With the M.V. Canawaima ferry vessel down and as an alternative arrangement is being worked out, the Government is considering formal arrangements at the backtrack route.

This is according to Director General of the Ministry of the Presidency Joseph Harmon.

The Canawaima ferry, which was built at a cost of US$20 million by the European Union, began operations in 1998. It ferries passengers and cargo between Guyana at Moleson Creek and South Drain in Suriname.

Over the years, it has experienced many problems, but late last week, as it ferried passengers across the river, it broke down, and there are now series concerns about when it would be back up and running, if at all.

According to Harmon, the Governments on both sides are discussing the issue.

The matter was discussed when the Surinamese president visited Guyana a few years ago and the two sides appointed good officers to work out an arrangement to manage the operations of the ferry.

However, Harmon said that Guyana will not allow the route to be closed and could use a local ferry vessel to ply the route, but no definitive arrangement has been made.

As the two sides discuss the renewal of the ferry service, the backtrack operations have increased, where persons use the speedboat service to enter both countries.

Mr Harmon said that the Government was looking at what legal measures could be put in place because the Government will never encourage backtrack operations.

He said that the Government is considering a “formal” arrangement to ensure persons enter and exit Guyana legally.

The back-track route has been used for decades. But while it gets persons across the river much quicker, there have been concerns about safety and the smuggling of goods and drugs.

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