Guyana/Suriname ferry service to be suspended from January 6-14 Vessel to undergo extensive repairs

Deyne Harry (DPI photo)

The Canawaima Ferry Service, which transports passengers between Guyana and Suriname, will be out of service for nine days in January in order to facilitate extensive repairs, Terminal Manager Deyne Harry announced yesterday.

Speaking at the Ministry of Public Infrastructure’s end-of-year press conference, Harry said that the Canawaima Ferry Service will be completely closed from January 6 to January 14 to facilitate emergency docking in order to have all the engine and mechanical issues sorted.

“The MV Canawaima continues to experience extensive mechanical challenges as…reported last year. That prompted us to hire a tug to assist in the propulsion of the vessel, which sometimes resulted in delays. As you will see in our projections for 2018, we have scheduled emergency docking very, very early in January, where we will be forced to have complete closure of service for a nine-day period just to facilitate emergency docking,” Harry said, while pointing out that the tug is still currently being used to assist the vessel with moving.

The Canawaima ferry

He said the decision was made by both the Suriname and Guyana side of the ferry’s management.  According to him, the selected date is the most appropriate since the cost to maintain the vessel beyond January 6 would be too much for them to bear.

The Canawaima ferry was inaugurated in 1998 through a US$20 million European Union-funded project. The ferry service has not been without its hiccups and has experienced engine difficulties in the past.

With respect to the inflow and outflow of traffic via the ferry service, Harry explained that there has been an 11% reduction of passengers and a 4% reduction of vehicles. In 2016, he pointed out that the service was able move to 116,079 passengers compared to 103,329 this year-a difference of 12,750 passengers. Despite the decrease in traffic flow, he said that a 2% increase in traffic is projected next year since management will be undertaking a “very aggressive” marketing strategy and will ensure that its website is up and running.

While there continues to be one scheduled crossing daily, Harry said that the decision to operate when traffic warrants has proven to be more cost effective.  

In terms of the income and expenditure, Harry pointed out that the ferry service remains an economical venture and while income decreased by 10% this year, a profit of $34.8 million was still achieved.

The service earned $153.8 million this year, $10 million less than the $163.8 million it earned last year. However, when compared to its expenditure, $119M in 2017 and $111.4 in 2016, the ferry service was still able to make a substantial profit.  It was also able to garner US$54,918 in foreign currency. “2017 has been a challenging one for us at the Canawaima Ferry Service, however we have continued to make strides in developing our infrastructure and ensuring our personnel are qualified with the requisite skills and know-how as it pertains to customer service relations. Like the previous years, the operations continue to be economically viable and management remains focused on delivering a reliable and efficient transportation service to and from Suriname,” Harry noted.

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