Modernisation of maritime sector “moving full speed ahead” – President Ali
-Commissions new pilot boat
His Excellency Dr Irfaan Ali said that his Government is moving with full speed to modernise the country’s maritime sector, given the important role it plays in the economic development of the country.
The Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces made the statement during the commissioning ceremony of the new pilot boat, Arapaima, at the Coast Guard Wharf in Georgetown on Wednesday.
President Ali noted that the maritime sector is the backbone of global trade and according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), ships transport 80% of the volume of traded goods globally, while in Guyana, shipping accounts for 90%.
“The economic transformation of Guyana cannot be realised without the modernisation of its maritime sector. Guyana is a low-lying coastal state and highly dependent on shipping for trade. It is bordered by the Atlantic and its sea routes serve as highways for the export of goods to other countries and for most of the country’s imports. Guyana, therefore, needs a modern maritime sector to support its economic ambitions.”
He said the transformation of the sector is moving “full speed ahead” with the collaboration of the Maritime Administration Department (MARAD).
The modernisation of the sector will support the country’s economic expansion and promote greater trade and commerce, while also ensuring greater maritime safety.
PILOT BOAT ARAPAIMA
The pilot boat, the President explained, comes with one-year free maintenance and warranty. The boat will use 30% less fuel and will also take less time to reach its destination. The boat was constructed using specifications from MARAD and has a modern navigation system that meets international standards.
“The acquisition of the ARAPAIMA is the continuation of our efforts to give MARAD a fleet of modern, reliable, fuel-efficient vessels that are capable of serving the needs of the shipping community and facilitating a modern marine sector.”
SEVEN-PRONGED APPROACH TO MODERNISING THE SECTOR
To modernise the sector, the President described the seven-pronged approach that his Government has already embarked on.
This includes updating the country’s hydrographical charts and improving marine and navigation aids. To this effect, over $1b has been invested over the last two years in marine navigation aids that are used to mark all of the navigable channels in Guyana. Along with the construction of 15 concrete beacons in the upper reaches of the Essequibo River to facilitate safe and 24-hour navigation, particularly for passenger vessels, and vessels transporting sand and stone. More beacons are currently being constructed in the Essequibo and Demerara rivers at a cost of over $600m.
Thirdly, the Government is strengthening the capacity of MARAD to manage the sector.
“The Government has also allocated the sum of $1b for the acquisition of a new tug for MARAD; $200m has been allocated for a new crane and hydrographic surveying equipment and an additional $400m is budgeted for the reconstruction of the Vreed-en-Hoop Buoys and Beacons facility. And more pilot boats will be added to the current fleet in order to meet the demands of the sector.”
The President also explained that the Government is improving port management. He said that Port Georgetown has undergone significant upgrades and improvements with new technology and infrastructure to improve efficiency and safety. In addition to the port management, the President said that there has also been a focus on improving maritime security in Guyana with the implementation of new standards and protocols to ensure that vessels entering and leaving Guyana are properly vetted and monitored.
“The vast number of port development projects that are currently underway and those that are in the pipeline will undoubtedly make further demands upon MARAD. But given the resources that are being made available to MARAD, I am confident in its ability to effectively and efficiently serve the shipping industry.”
Fifthly, the President noted, Guyana is adopting a strategic perspective as opposed to a reactive approach to the development of the maritime sector. He explained that the country is paving the way for the creation and implementation of the National Maritime Strategy, as well as the organising and implementation of various elements of the Commonwealth Marine Economy Plan.
“Sixth, we are mindful of the adverse effects of marine pollution. We, therefore, are taking steps to protect our waters from pollution and harmful activities. As such, we are implementing regulations concerning the disposal of waste and the use of chemicals, as well as monitoring water quality and marine life.”
Lastly, the President said, the Government is investing in human resources to effectively manage and modernise the maritime sector.
“We will continue to invest in training to effectively manage and modernise the maritime sector. We will continue to invest in training our personnel so that they can effectively discharge their responsibilities, including ensuring greater safety.”
UTILISING THE RIVERS MORE
President Ali also stated that the Government is working on utilising the riverways as “express highways” for emergency responses.
“As you know that Demerara River gives us the opportunity to run the entire coast from Georgetown here all the way to Timehri and beyond. So the Guyana Police Force and the National Security Architecture, are looking at utilising the river as our fast-lane highway in responding to crime and security threats. So that’s just an addition or an added value that the maritime sector as a whole will be bringing to the modernisation of Guyana.”
Minister of Public Works, the Honourable Juan Eghill; Minister within the Ministry of Public Works, the Honourable Deodat Indar and other Government officials were also at the event.