Government has deployed two new water taxis to ferry commuters travelling daily between Rosignol and New Amsterdam, in Berbice.
The boats, which cost a total of $23.2 million, were commissioned by the Ministry of Public Infra-structure’s Transport and Harbours Department (T&HD) on Thursday morning at the New Amsterdam stelling.
The water taxis began operation yesterday and are expected to accommodate the approximately 300 persons who travel between Rosignol and New Amsterdam on a daily basis via the Berbice River. School children account for an estimated 35% of the daily traffic.
The boats were commissioned by Minister within the Ministry of Public Infrastructure Annette Ferguson, who stressed that a number of stakeholders in Region Six were engaged before the deployment of the boats.
She explained that previously two private boats were in operation, which were being funded by the management of the T&HD. “We sat and decided among ourselves for us to have two vessels built and they can operate it, hence us seeing the realisation of those two vessels,” she said.
It was announced that the water taxis cost a total of $10 million to be constructed, while $13.2 million was spent to supply and install the engines on each.
The vessels, named Blessed 1 and Blessed 2, will operate from Monday to Friday, from 6 am to 9.30 am and from 2.30 pm to 6 pm. Pensioners and school children will be able to cross free of cost, while other persons would have to pay a fair of $120.
Ferguson further noted that the two boats are just the beginning, since the government believes that more speedboats are needed in Guyana’s rivers.
She explained that one may soon be deployed in the Canje River in order to assist farmers to bring out their produce. “It’s a high farming community but when they harvest their produce its very difficult to get it to the market place because there is not a regular vessel being run there, so we have examined this carefully with the additional vessels to come on stream, we would see one of those vessels be placed in the Canje River,” she explained.
Additionally, Ferguson announced that the government received a grant from the government of India, which will go towards a new vessel that will provide services in Region One. “We are at the awarding stage, so hopefully before 2020 we should see the realisation of a new ferry vessel for the Region one area,” she said. “When this new vessel comes on stream, we should be able to probably have one of the vessels that is currently in operation, we will try to see whether we can have it sent to Region Six, so we can continuously give support to the residents and also the farmers here,” she added.
Meanwhile, the minister further related that since assuming government, over $1 billion has been spent by the APNU+AFC administration in the rehabilitation and maintenance of ferry vessels.