With the intention of procuring a new vessel to ply the Georgetown/ Northwest district route, the Government of Guyana signed a US$10M loan yesterday with Exim Bank of India.
Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson and Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan were present at the Ministry of Finance’s boardroom along with High Commissioner of India to Guyana Venkatachalam Mahalingam and Resident Representative from Exim Bank, Sailesh Prashad, to sign the agreement.
Patterson explained that while the vessel will cost US$18M, US$10M is coming via the loan while the remaining US$8M will be coming as a grant from the Government of India. The agreement will be tendered out internationally.
“The Transport and Harbours, while being a very faithful servant, has currently some ageing vessels,” Patterson said, pointing out that the two newest vessels are only allowed to ply the shorter routes. The MV Kimbia is down and awaiting repairs and the MV Barima is scheduled to be back soon. “The only vessel now that is plying that route is the Lady Northcote but unfortunately that vessel can only get to places like Kumaka and Port Kaituma once every two or three weeks and it’s a very small vessel,” Patterson said, pointing out that as such there is a large demographic that is left unserved.
Jordan also pointed out that the current ferries “have been there for ages and have now exceeded their lifespan.” As such, they are heavily compromised and over the years the residents have complained bitterly on the negative impacts they have had on their lives. “The introduction of this new ferry is expected to provide improved services for residents who commute regularly between Region 1 and 4,” he said, pointing out that it will have a number of social and economic effects since it will allow for more efficient and faster transportation from Georgetown to the Northwest, which will allow for greater market access. “The economies can expect to be improved,” he said.
Jordan also explained that the agreement was on the cards since the past government when former President Donald Ramotar had visited India and was promised assistance to purchase a vessel to replace the old one. “In essence this is a formalization of the promise that was made to the former President,” he said, pointing out that the loan is a standard one with 20 years to pay back with a five years grace period. Mahalingam lauded the partnership between the Government of Guyana and the Government of India.