Residents of Kopinang, Region Eight, may be in for a gloomy Christmas following the decision by Air Services Limited (ASL) to suspend flights to the area, due to the state of the Kopinang Airstrip.
It is alleged, that as a result of this announcement, food and gas prices in the community have increased, leaving residents to face the possibility of a “blue Christmas.”
One resident, who spoke with Stabroek News on the condition of anonymity, explained that works on the airstrip commenced in April of this year and were completed in September. However, even as other companies such as Roraima Airways and Jags Aviation have been using the airstrip to facilitate charters to the community, ASL which serviced Kopinang three times a week prior to the rehabilitation of the airstrip, has suspended its flights to the area.
While several attempts made to contact ASL for clarification on the issue, such attempts proved futile.
However, Stabroek News was reliably informed that the decision to suspend their operations there was due to the unsuitability of a section of the airstrip to facilitate the landing of aircraft. This is, despite the fact that the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCCA) having inspected and formally reopened the aerodrome for commercial flights.
Meanwhile, the resident who spoke with this newspaper said, “I personally tried to find out why they are not coming anymore, and Roraima said the airstrip is okay, but ASL apparently said that the airstrip is too dangerous to land,” the woman said
“The people in Kopinang are suffering, the businesses are really feeling it because the plane has to land at Maikwak then persons got to pay people to fetch the load from there to the village which is like two hours away walking. On top of that, it’s only once a week that the plane lands at Maikwak and that isn’t enough because there is only so much that can be accommodated on one flight” she added.
As a result, the prices for groceries have risen while some business owners have resorted to closing their shops all together.
“We have like two shops still trying but the rest close down; chicken is $800 a pound now, sugar which was $240 a pound is now $300 and gas is now $3,500 per gallon. Some people now left to buy stuff from this Brazilian man who does bring stuff from over there to sell,” the woman said.
“The medical supplies that would usually be landed there for Kopinang and the surrounding areas have stopped, therefore there is shortage of drugs too. We had a patient with a broken leg, who had to be transported on a bike to Maikwak which cause more trauma because of how the road rough… even the contraceptives people have to be buying from the shop now, because there is no drugs at the health centre…Christmas is coming up. We need some airline to at least to start going in,” she added.
In the meantime, the woman explained that the community was advised by the GCAA to write to other domestic airlines in hopes of retaining their services.