‘Seafarers have served their country with distinction’ – Public Works Minister

says Gov’t commits to retooling, modernising MARAD

Minister of Public Works, Bishop Juan Edghill MP, has hailed the contributions of Guyanese seafarers for their dedication to the improvement, sustainability and safety of the shipping industry in Guyana.

Minister Edghill expressed the sentiment on Thursday, during a Maritime Day ceremony held at the Maritime Administration Department (MARAD)’s head office in Kingston, Georgetown.

Minister of Public Works, Bishop Juan Edghill, MP and Minister within the Ministry of Public Works, Deodat Indar, MP pose with MARAD employees

World Maritime Day 2021, was celebrated under the theme ‘Seafarers: At the core of shipping’s future.’

Minister Edghill noted, “Every time you see something great, successful, sustainable things happening, know that people make them happen. This is a celebration for the people who, over the years, have made things happen in the maritime industry to ensure that we have the access, regulatory framework and the support architecture to ensure that our country is adequately served both by way of import, export and travelling.”

Minister of Public Works, Bishop Juan Edghill, MP hands over an appreciation award to Vanessa Merchant, one of the first female Shipping Inspectors

The public works minister, whose ministry holds purview over the maritime sector, reminded that since assuming office, he had challenged MARAD to repurpose and realign its modus operandi with the emerging oil and gas sector. To this end, he added that the government will be moving to the National Assembly to consider new legislation to address the broadening of MARAD’s scope of operations. The minister noted that a prominent personality will give support and guidance with this legislation drafting.

Minister of Public Works, Bishop Juan Edghill, MP hands over an appreciation award to Director General of the Maritime Administration Department, Stephen Thomas for his decades of service to the sector

Further, Minister Edghill called for the acceleration of the cadet programme, which is responsible for the recruitment and training of young people to take up mid management positions, including engineers, pilots, and captains. He said the government is enthusiastic to accommodate partners to have a full-fledged maritime training school in Guyana.

“This school must be properly equipped, not just with teachers but to provide the practical aspect so that our men and women can enjoy the benefits of higher learning and acquisition of skills.”

A ship captain receives an honourary award for 50 years of service to the maritime sector

Notably, the public works minister spoke of establishing a mentorship programme pointing out how critical this would be to cadets in understanding the practical intricacies of the maritime sector.

The retooling of MARAD is also on the agenda on the government, he said.

Meanwhile, Minister within the Ministry of Public Works, Deodat Indar, MP, reminded that the maritime industry is more than money. He said it is about a smooth, strategic coordination to keep the global scales balanced.  

“Without the maritime sector, we would all be impacted. One would recall the recent hike in the prices of products. This is all because of the effects of the pandemic on the shipping sector. That is how much the shipping sector is integrally involved in your life.”

Maritime cadets pose for a group photo

Minister Indar also spoke of achieving net-zero by 2050 as per the objectives of the Paris Agreement. He reminded that ships contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions, noting that Guyana should seek other methods to ensure emissions are reduced exponentially.

Meanwhile, Director General of MARAD, Stephen Thomas also recognised and celebrated the men and women who have made “great efforts to ensure that shipping is safe and secure.” He referred to the billions of dollars contributed to economies through the repatriation of wages in the shipping industry.

“Such contributions to a national economy cannot be ignored. Seafarers, at the core of shipping, are key resources not only to the maritime sector, but to the development of national economies in general,” he pointed out.

The Director General highlighted that as MARAD welcomes the expansion of the local oil and gas sector, it has recognised that the seafaring experience is perhaps the most cost-effective way to get qualified workers into marine-related industries. In particular, he highlighted those seafarers are sought out in building up the shore base maritime industries deemed as a fundamental area to help the country’s maritime transport policies to be successfully implemented.