Residents of the Essequibo River island of Wakenaam yesterday made public their dissatisfaction with the current ferry service being provided by the Transport and Harbours Department (T&HD) to the community.
In a letter in yesterday’s Sunday Stabroek, several residents said that though they have made formal representation to the authorities on several occasions, they are still plagued by the “intolerable practices of the Ferry Service.”
Key among their concerns was the lack of a ferry schedule for that area.
According to the residents, “the T&HD has rendered us dependent on guesswork for making travel arrangements with our vehicles, as well as passengers travelling from Wakenaam to Parika and vice versa.” It was also stated that residents of Wakenaam are forced to await the arrival of the Malali at Wakenaam to find out from its captain when next the boat will make its departure to Parika, since the “clerk-in-charge,” is unable to do so.
Residents say that when the MV Malali leaves Wakenaam at midnight it usually goes to Leguan, where it waits until 6:30am before leaving for Parika.
This, they said, is also done on the 5:00am and 6:00am departure trips from Wakenaam. The residents questioned the fairness of having to go to Leguan to wait until 6:30am before it departs for Parika when they would have boarded the boat since midnight.
They also pointed out the impracticality of being expected to drive to Georgetown and back after conducting business, and return for a 4:00 pm ferry, after arriving at Parika at 9:00am. They said that many vehicles often fail to return by the required time. As such many have been forced to make bookings on the next day’s steamer, which is very expensive, or stay at relatives close by.
The inefficiencies related to the service have left many residents of the island no choice but to utilise the speed boat service, which is approximately five times more expensive, the letter said. They also said that it hampers several businesses and services from Essequibo to Wakenaam, including police services as well as GT&T and GWI services. Among the business entities affected are MK Baksh (wholesaler and retailer to Wakenaam) and Hanoman Bajnauth (fish vendor to Wakenaam). The residents said that the irregular service also negatively impacts their ability to access the medical facility at Suddie.
The residents acknowledged the fact that the volume of Wakenaam’s travelling public was not comparable with other parts of the Essequibo Coast, but maintained that the situation should, nevertheless, be returned to normalcy (where the ferry used to leave Parika thence to Wakenaam thence to Supenaam and return via the said route to Parika.)