Minister of Public Works, Bishop Juan Edghill, M.P said the government is satisfied with the new $2.5 billion (US$12.7) North-West ferry, which is expected to set sail to Guyana’s waters in the coming months.
The new MV MA Lisha vessel which is being funded by the government of India, will ply the Barima-Waini/ Georgetown route.
During a press briefing at the ministry’s Kingston, Georgetown office on Monday, Minister Edghill said the vessel is designed to operate in specific conditions.
He explained that the MV MA Lisha- from the native Warau language meaning ‘friendship,’ is being built by Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers Limited to facilitate special features to mitigate challenges faced by travellers.
“This is a boat that is being built from scratch, designed for the conditions that it has to operate in, with specifications to meet the needs of the people in Region One,” the minister added.
Minister Edghill said that the 69.55-meter-long vessel, with a beam of 13.5 metres; its width at its widest point and a draught of three metres, will cut travel time by 50 per cent.
It has a speed of 15 knots powered by two caterpillar engines and twin disc gearboxes, with the capacity to carry 250 tons of cargo. It has a passenger capacity of 294, which means the boat can actually carry 276 revenue paying passengers and 18 crew members.
In addition, the vessel has an endurance of 500 nautical miles and a displacement of 1,730 tonnes. It also has the capacity to carry 14 sedan type vehicles along with two trucks.
Business people, and others who ship produce from and into the interior will now be able to get containers 10 ft by 10 ft since the vessel has the capacity to carry 10 of those.
The issue of spoilage will be significantly reduced or totally eliminated since the boat also has a refrigerated cargo capacity and a cold room storage that will accommodate 43.98 m3 of merchandise.
The front of the vessel has the roll- on, roll -off facility, which will enable it to discharge and board cargo at its port immediately without the use of a stelling. It also has the side boarding capacity.
“This is a real, real game changer and life changer for people in the North West”, said the public works minister.
Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Transport and Harbours Department, Rosalinda Rasul also joined in clarifying how the ferry is fit for its purpose.
“One of the most important things, when you’re selecting a vessel for any operation, is its fit for purpose and functionality. Cargo operation it is not exactly a smooth operation like in some other industries; it is rough, so, if you had a sleeker more modern, cruise liner vessel then we were going to get criticised for investing in a vessel that is not fit for its purpose or intent, so, it is necessary for persons to appreciate the vessel, its structure and most importantly its functionality,” she said.
When the boat was launched in the Hooghly River, India on June 15, it was 70 per cent complete, the minister said. Further works including plumbing are expected to continue.
Once those works are completed, two teams from the Transport and Harbours Department (T&HD) will be sent to India to undergo training. The team has a complement of 10 persons each who will be operating the boat. These will comprise the captain and mechanical staff.
The mechanical team will engage with the original equipment manufacturers to be able to get all of the first-hand knowledge to maintain the vessel over time.
For the MV MA Lisha to travel to Guyana it will be placed on two semi-submersible barges for the 45 to 60 days journey.
The boat will be tested and verified by the class society of shipping to ensure its quality, safety and seaworthiness. The American Bureau of Shipping is being used by the ministry to certify the class society.