(GUYANA CHRONICLE) – THE `MB Sandaka’ which plies between the Moleson Creek, Guyana, and South Drain, Suriname ports, will operate today, March 18, 2018, only to facilitate the transport of passengers who have been stranded in both countries, according to the management of the Guyana/Suriname Ferry Service.
The ferry will depart the Moleson Creek port at 09:00hrs with check-in to be done between 06:30 and 08:00hrs. However, the notice was specific that the service will facilitate ONLY “Suriname nationals or Surinamese by naturalisation with resident status, that is, he/she must be the holder of a Surinamese passport.”
Meanwhile, Guyanese desirous of returning home are asked to check-in at South Drain, Suriname, between 6:30 and 8:00hrs (Suriname’s local time).
Upon arrival here, port health officials will be present to screen each passenger, the ferry management stated, as it urged Guyanese to make a special effort to take advantage of the opportunity to return home. The management also apologised for any inconvenience being caused at this time.
The fate of several passengers and traders who utilise the service had hung in a balance, after the Surinamese authorities on March 13, 2020, announced the closure of its borders after the country recorded its first case of the dreadful coronavirus.
The following day, March 14, the Management of the Guyana/Suriname Service announced an indefinite suspension of the ferry service. Earlier on Tuesday, a source close to the ferry’s operation had disclosed to this publication that the Guyana authorities were willing have the MB Sandaka operate, for at least a day to transport the travellers stranded on both sides.
Apparently, there was some disagreement between the Guyanese and their Surinamese counterpart, regarding the Surinamese here who wanted to travel back home.
It was pointed out that the today’s arrangement is similar to one that was brokered last year, when the original vessel, MV Canawaima, was rendered inoperable due to mechanical difficulties.
On that occasion, a window was created that allowed the Transport and Harbours Department-owned MB Sandaka, to be re-routed and provide relief from May 31 to June 2, 2019, to stranded passengers from both countries.
With no ferry service in operation, businessmen and others complained of experiencing undue hardship and inconvenience, while the ferry management lost much-needed revenue.
In September 2019, the MB Sandaka was returned to service the route while the MV Canawaima remains grounded on the mudflat at South Drain, as it awaits the needed repairs to be completed.