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… life jackets not used on journeyThe Guyana-Suriname “backtrack” [illegal migration] operations have been in existence for a number of years at the Springlands, Corriverton and Nickerie locations. Many Guyanese and Surinamese have opted to utilise the faster way of getting in and out of the two countries without the hassle of the ‘legal’ ferry service located at Moleson Creek on the Guyana side and South- Drain on the Suriname side.Prior to the introduction of the ferry service, persons from both countries used makeshift stellings at Springlands where immigration officials were present and the area was designated the official port of entry/leaving Guyana.It was probably against this backdrop where the backtrack service would begin a few years later.  After the Guyana-Suriname Ferry Service was launched on November 1,Nike Air Max Clearance Uk, 1998, through a $20M funded European Union project, the government declared illegality to the speedboat services that plied the Corentyne River to and from Suriname. Presidents Janet Jagan and Jules Wijdenbosch commissioned the MV Canawaima Ferry Service. That service operates twice per day with a few exclusions on certain holidays and days of the week.There are two operators that take persons across the Corentyne River to Nickerie. Today, the business is a lucrative one even though it has been marred over the years with deadly disasters that sent shockwaves across the Corentyne and Guyana as a whole.It is interesting to note that the owner of one of the speedboat services died in 2008 after seven persons drowned just off the coast of the Corentyne after the propeller of the boat they were travelling in became entangled with a seine.Two persons also died in 2007 in similar circumstances. Nevertheless,Bouteille Hydro Flask, persons on both sides of the river continue to use the service which has been dubbed ‘semi- legal’ by many of the authorities.The Government of Guyana has from time to time stated its unwillingness to regularise the backtrack service, while its Surinamese counterparts have always had the desire to make both sides legal ports of entries.Last year, the Guyana Government declined a proposal by Suriname’s Justice Minister, Chandrikapersaud Santokhi to regulate the backtrack service.  The Guyana government declined the invitation and only promised further discussions on the matter. Many persons have utilised the backtrack operation to smuggle drugs and contraband materials in and out of Guyana. Criminals also use the route to further clandestine activities as well.Today,Nike Air Max Norge, the number of operators may have dwindled but hundreds of persons continue to use the service. On the Guyana side, there are established boat landings. Minibus operators plying the Upper Corentyne routes know where to stop to let out passengers who wish to take a quick trip across to Guyana’s Eastern neighbour or a Surinamese who had just spent some time here or even a store owner who wants to do some shopping on the other side and return the same day.During a recent visit to the two crossings at Corriverton and Nickerie, Kaieteur News made a few observations.A group of money changers congregated outside the first boat landing at Number 78 Village, Corriverton. You can buy Surinamese and U.S. Dollars there as well. Potential passengers then made their way through a narrow pathway through a residential plot and arrived at the boat-landing. You can see the Corentyne River before you. At this point, you can make your payment of $2000 per head to travel across to Nickerie.Other persons travelling were seen in the waiting area. The waiting period for a boat to take you across varies from 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the number of passengers available.Several boats from Nickerie arrived and persons made their way off the boat and onto the wooden jetty along with their merchandise and other bags with belongings.Using the backtrack trailFinally, the call to passengers is made. It was time to leave. Persons started to make their way down the jetty onto the boat. The boat had eight passengers, including the operator. One of the passengers, a Surinamese woman returning home after the funeral of her relative, requested a life- jacket.There were several lifejackets on board the boat, however they were all soaked wet and hardly looked like they could save lives as they seemed thin and old. The boat operator informed the woman that no other dry life- jackets were available and that it was a ‘Dutch’ boat that they were in.A rule in the past was that a Surinamese operator could only bring passengers to Guyana and return empty and a Guyanese operator could only take passengers to Nickerie and leave. Clearly, this rule had not been observed during this trip. Other passengers began to call out to the officials on the boat landing for lifejackets but no jacket arrived. Subsequently, the boat moved off, picked up two other passengers at another boat landing at Springlands, and then left for Nickerie. No passenger had on life-jackets. Cell phone signals fluctuated in the waters of the Corentyne, even though a cellular phone tower could be seen in the distance along the coastline.The journey lasted 15 minutes because the water had been calm. Upon arrival at Nickerie, car operators were seen making their way onto the shore and into the knee- deep waters. They approached the boat which came to a slow and subsequent stop. They were soliciting passengers to take into Nickerie and Paramaribo. Because the water was knee- deep, they lifted persons on their backs and onto the shore.For this, persons had to pay the vehicle operators. Several cars were lined up at the park, metres from the shore, waiting for passengers.In contrast to the two boat landings at Corriverton, there is only one at Nickerie. The operators there had created a man-made beach area where a shore existed on which persons could walk onto the boats. However, when the tide is high, they would have to walk into knee- deep water.There is no jetty like the one at Corriverton for passengers. Huge rock boulders break the waves and keep the water at bay to facilitate the shore at Nickerie.When it was time for the return trip, the wait was approximately one and a half hours for operators to receive a full complement of passengers. There is a waiting area with benches on the Nickerie side. Eleven persons including the operator and cargo from Suriname departed Nickerie in rough waters and arrived at Corriverton some 25 minutes later. The return trip costs SRD $35 or $2,500 per head.Kaieteur News has learnt that the backtrack service operates daily from 06:00 hrs- 18:00 hrs. However,Wholesale World Cup Jerseys, on the Nickerie side, persons can enter Corriverton any time of the day or night once a special price of $16,000 is paid.In the past, the service has encountered numerous hurdles and was shut down by authorities on both sides, the most recent being in October 2007 when Surinamese officials pulled the plug on the service,Air Max Rea Sverige, at lease for a while.Last year, the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce announced its desire to have the backtrack service discontinued,Cheap NFL Shop, citing risks, cross- border smuggling and instances where persons lost their lives on the route. The Chamber also highly prefers the use of a larger vessel to be used and not speedboats. However, the Private Sector Commission had a different view of the matter and said that the backtrack service would be an ideal way of improving relations between Guyana and Suriname.The Berbice Chamber of Commerce also expressed hope that arrangements would become underway so that the system could become legalised soon.(Leon Suseran)
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