$535M PB Arapaima commissioned, part of efforts to modernise local maritime sector – President Ali

Aimed at improving and modernising the country’s maritime sector, President Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali, on Wednesday commissioned the $535 million Pilot Boat, Arapaima for official use by the Maritime Administration Department (MARAD).

The president delivered the feature address at the commissioning ceremony hosted at the National Coast Guard Headquarters at Ramp Road, Ruimveldt.

The head of state pointed to a number of measures the government is implementing aimed at completely transforming local maritime operations.

President, Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali at the commissioning of the PB Arapaima

He noted, however, that the acquisition of the PB Arapaima is just a small step in a series of larger efforts to mitigate difficulties being faced in the sector.

“We have aging assets. Bad decisions in 2018 by the last government led to the acquisition of what was supposed to be a new asset for just around $300 million. One year afterwards, we spent more than $300 million on spares, and that takes it to about $600-plus million. That vessel is costing us about $50 million annually to maintain,” President Ali explained.

He contrasted it with the new, improved acquisition, highlighting that this vessel is much more efficient for the purpose it was purchased for.

“This vessel, on the other hand, was acquired at $535 million, one-year free maintenance on warranty, and from the second year, it is anticipated that will cost no more than GY$20 million in maintenance [annually]. It will also utilise 30 per cent less fuel than the current fleet. That tells a story by itself,” Dr. Ali underlined.

The president also congratulated the management and staff of MARAD on the acquisition of the vessel, iterating that it is a continuation of the administration’s efforts to give MARAD a fleet of modern reliable, fuel-efficient vessels capable of serving the needs of the shipping industry, and facilitating a modern marine sector.

Meanwhile, Minister of Public Works, Bishop Juan Edghill, highlighted the important role the maritime industry plays in the economic growth and development of the country and cited the increasing amount of maritime traffic and commerce taking place.

“It is crucial that we have effective systems to ensure that everything is running smoothly and safely with the latter being paramount, and this is precisely why this vessel was acquired. Safety in our waterways is something that is of utmost importance to this government. And in keeping with its mandate, MARAD is working to ensure that people employ safe practices,” he stated.

Minister Edghill noted that the PPP/C government’s continued commitment to the people of Guyana is demonstrated by the substantial investments being made in the sector.

“We will continue to build on what we have started as we acquire new vessels to advance our work. In addition to infrastructure, emphasis has been placed on the training of our staff to man these vessels, to keep our operations running smoothly, and in compliance with international best practices. With this new vessel, the time for pilots to embark and disembark will be cut by 75 per cent and this is just the beginning of great things that will be accomplished with the pilot boat Arapaima,” he added.

The 14-person PB Arapaima was custom-built by Ocea Shipbuilding Limited in France, following a needs assessment conducted by MARAD.

It is built from aluminum, which is about 30 per cent lighter than steel, strong, and has good corrosion resistance. This translates to higher speed, lower fuel consumption and easier navigation.

Ten persons were also trained and certified in the operation of the boat.