The People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) government on Wednesday ended a five-year delay in moving the process forward in acquiring a new ferry to ply the Georgetown to North-West route with the signing of a contract to begin construction of a modern vessel.
The contract was awarded to one of India’s leading shipyards- Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE) Limited – to the tune of US$12.7M. Minister of Public Works, Juan Edghill said the company will be required to build and deliver the fully functional vessel to Guyana within 18 months. This means that the new ferry will not come into operation until 2022.
Edghill said the process of acquiring the ferry could have been further along after discussions started with the Indian Government during the presidency of Donald Ramotar while the financing became available some five years ago.
He claimed that the project was held up by the last government because moves were afoot to award the contract to the highest bidder, which goes against not only Guyana’s procurement practices but that of its bilateral partner.
“When we examine the facts and history, today is a significant day as it relates to diplomatic collaboration between the PPP government and the government of India… we have overcome what seemed like an insurmountable challenge and difficulty and today we proudly announce the fruits of collaboration and diplomatic cooperation,” Edghill said.
He said the new vessel will offer reduced travel time and greater passenger comfort. The contract allows for an advance payment of 20% to be disbursed to the company, followed by a subsequent 40% and the final 40% in 2022 after the installation of the main engine and the delivery of the vessel.
The ferry is to be used in the North West region as well as South West region Guyana up to the interior location of Kwakwani, Berbice River. It will be used as a coastal as well as a river service vessel.
Meanwhile, High Commissioner of India to Guyana, Dr. K. J. Srinivasa, said he was happy that the project was revived after a long hiatus, reminding that it is part of a larger US$18M grant/line of credit offered to Guyana by India.
“The Government of Guyana proposes to utilise the balance amount of US$ 18 million for the upgrade of the marine stellings that will serve this vessel. The proposal in this regard received from the Government of Guyana is being examined by the Government of India,” the High Commissioner said.
He was in high praise of the company selected to carry out the construction of the vessel, pointing out that GRSE is a prominent shipbuilding company in India under the administrative control of the Ministry of Defence, primarily catering to the shipbuilding requirements of the Indian Navy and the Indian Coast Guard.
In addition to its ship and warship building capabilities, GRSE is also engaged in engine production and other engineering activities, he said.
The High Commissioner said he was happy about the progress in all other projects between the Government of Guyana and the Government of India, which includes the Ogle/East Bank bypass road, the hinterland solar panel project and the procurement and installation of pumps at identified locations.