Barima, Kimbia ferries set to return soon

(February 1, 2017) Passengers to and from the North-West District are expected to benefit from significantly shortened travel time when the MV Barima returns to operation in about two weeks after more than a year of rehabilitative works.

Meanwhile, the MV Kimbia will, similarly, be out of dock soon following extensive works. Both vessels went into dock in November 2015.

This information was shared with Minister within the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Hon. Annette Ferguson, by the contractor, Mr. Courtney Benn of Courtney Benn Contracting Services Ltd., during a recent visit to the docked ferries.

A section of the rehabilitated MV Barima

During her lengthy visit of the far-progressed MV Barima, Minister Ferguson expressed concern for the maintenance of the vessel following undocking and assurances were in turn given by officials of the Transport and Harbours Department (T&HD) that maintenance would be a priority.

Minister Ferguson also noted that much work would have been put in from her last visit some months ago. These works included the replacement and repair of underwater fittings, including the propellers and rudders; scraping and painting of the hull; installation of two main engines; painting of the interior and exterior of the ferry; installation of new seats for the passengers; and the upgrade of crew cabins. The ferry also benefited from improved safety thanks to 250 new life jackets and the addition of fire extinguishers. The project cost was $150.6M.

“I’m really pleased about this,” she said. “We’ve waited long but I’m pleased with the quality of work.”

Minister Ferguson further stressed that the comfort and safety of passengers must remain at the forefront and said too that she was eager for the ferry to return to operation to better service the North-West community and aid the Lady Northcote in the delivery of T&HD’s services.

Meanwhile, the contractor shared that the travel time with MV Barima is expected to be greatly reduced by as much as 50 percent following undocking. He too emphasised that, while the engines are faster and performance will be improved overall, maintenance was important. Additionally, he revealed that his company provided a number of items, outside of the contracted items, including televisions and water coolers free of cost as part of its social responsibility to the travelling public.

“This is indeed a significant change we’re seeing,” Minister Ferguson remarked, before adding, “I’m hoping that our customers will be at

Minister within the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Hon. Annette Ferguson, inspects the ferry’s upgraded navigational system on board of the rehabilitated MV Barima

comfort and they will enjoy an efficient travel time. At the end of the day, their satisfaction is all that matters.”

Minister Ferguson also visited the MV Kimbia, which is also in dock and is being repaired by the same contractor.

The works for the MV Kimbia include general docking; servicing and repair of underwater fittings; painting of the hull; installation of zinc panels; and painting of its interior and exterior while its electrical and plumbing issues will also be addressed. The ferry will also be outfitted with a new propulsion system; the engine is currently being rebuilt and acquired from Holland.

Minister Ferguson once again stressed the importance of having the vessel undocked as soon as possible to assist in the improvement of services.

Marcelene Merchant, General-Manager of T&HD, indicated that she was also satisfied with the works being executed and said that stringent policies will be put in place to ensure that staff execute the necessary maintenance works.