The ferry boat, Torani, has capsized in the Essequibo River somewhere near Mazaruni. I have actually seen pictures of the capsized vessel. It is being speculated that the ferry capsized several days ago. This is an important event and the Guyanese people need to be informed. But not a word, nada, from APNU+AFC. The Minister in charge, the Minister of Infrastructure, David Patterson, has been silent. His Ministry has been equally silent. The President has been silent. The Prime Minister has been silent. The Minister of State has been silent. The Minister of Public Security has been silent.
The total silence of the APNU+AFC administration is not just an insult to the Guyanese people, it is a dereliction of duty. Did they know that the Torani capsized? When did they know? When exactly do they plan to inform the Guyanese people? This is not a trivial matter and the people first becoming aware of this national scandal through social media does not bode well for good governance.
But there is another important matter: the growing evidence that Guyana’s assets are being neglected through poor maintenance. Across the board ‒ buildings, roads, equipment, etc, are being neglected as money is wasted. As more and more money is being spent on deals like the medical warehouse transaction, the implementation of maintenance work is being deferred or reduced. Clearly, the Torani has not been maintained properly.
The Torani represents a historic vessel. It was built during a Cheddi Jagan-led PPP government in 1960. It was the first ever locally built ferry vessel, built by Sproston’s Ltd.
The construction of the Torani started a steel fabrication industry in Guyana. Indeed, the construction of a ferry and the beginning of a steel fabrication capacity in Guyana were both firsts for the Caribbean. It is an example of the innovation and forward thinking of Cheddi Jagan and the PPP.
This also saw the construction of the Malawi and the Makouria. Incidentally, after 1964, no new ferry boat was constructed during the 28 years of the PNC-led government. It was only after the PPP returned to office in 1992 that a number of passenger and vehicle pontoons were locally constructed and two Ro-Ro ferries were built in China.
Even though the Torani is now 57 years old, it is an asset that we must preserve. It is part of our history. The fact that it was built under Jagan and the PPP must not be a reason for neglect and for treating it as if it is a trivial and useless heap of steel.
APNU+AFC must immediately update the Guyanese people on the status of the Torani. It is reckless that APNU+AFC continues to be AWOL every time there is a major issue in our country. Five ministers had time to travel to be wined and dined in Texas, but no minister and no official can take time to inform the Guyanese people of such an important event, one that has an impact on the everyday lives of people. For certain the trip to Texas and the sumptuous meals and the expensive drinks that the ministers enjoyed there have no impact on a single life in Guyana.