Minister of Transport and Hydraulics Robeson Benn is again urging delinquent speed boat operators plying the Parika-Supenaam route to comply with safety measures.
“I want to appeal to the Parika-Supenaam operators to follow the specifications, to adopt the measures we have and to provide a better and safer service to all our people who travel this route,” he said in his address in Essequibo, Region Two at a National Commission on Law and Order consultation at the Anna Regina Town Hall.
According to a Government Information Agency (GINA) press release Benn emphasised that the guidelines laid out by the Public Works Ministry are to ensure that commuters are travelling safely. He said the requirements include a bulwark at the back of the boat to prevent sinking, flotation devices under the seats, and a cover to keep out the rain and sun.
“I am unhappy with the current service because it appears as though these operators are putting up all kinds of irrational reasons why these rules should not be given effect,” he said.
According to GINA, recently boat operators have argued that they have refused to comply with the new guidelines because when the expected two new ferries come into operation, the speed boat service will be forced out of business. In response, Benn said, “People only utilise the service in unavoidable circumstances because it is not of a standard where one would readily use it. It is still too rudimentary and perceived as dangerous….” He noted that to retain and attract passengers operators have to be competitive and must offer an improved service. He said too in other countries around the world this type of requirement is standard and operators are sure to see an increase in the number of persons using the service. The minister pointed out that the service provided for this route should be not different than that provided by operators of the Bartica to Parika or the Stabroek to Vreed-en-Hoop routes where these arrangements have already been adopted.
He noted that this step is necessary as it fits in with the models for tourism development in Guyana and enhances the opportunity for more people to travel. Only one boat operator, Jennifer Bovell has conformed with the prerequisites so far. Bovell said that many of the commuters prefer to wait on the boats with sheds especially when it rains.
Meanwhile, NDC Chairman Cornel Damon said complying with the sheds is the way forward for speed boats operators. He also lauded Benn for introducing this measure in the requirements which apart from ensuring some level of comfort is also a necessary safety precaution.
The new ferries are expected to arrive in Guyana in about a year.