The Ministry of Public Works’ Transport and Harbours Department (T&HD) on Tuesday commissioned the new $84 Million Fort Island stelling which is the fulfilment of a commitment made by the ministry in 2021, after numerous complaints by residents.
At the commissioning ceremony, Minister Bishop Juan Edghill, M.P, said residents of Fort Island in the Essequibo River urgently needed a new stelling since the island is a tourist destination.
“In delivering this stelling, we are delivering new hope, new opportunities and the possibilities for a thriving economically buoyant Fort Island. If you have more people visiting than living here, the people of this island must be able to utilise that opportunity to their economic advantage,” he said.
The contract to rehabilitate the stelling was awarded to IB Contracting and Machinery Service on August, 18, 2021 and completed on March 17, 2022. Eric Morris, a civil engineer from the ministry, supervised the work.
The stelling features a passenger walkway, a lavatory and for the first time ever, solar power. Boats travelling from Georgetown to Bartica will make stops at the island on Saturdays and Sundays.
However, brief stops during the week can be facilitated. Private vessels which dock at the island will pay a loading fee.
Minister within the Ministry of Public Works, Deodat Indar, M.P, said the government is committed to ensuring every region benefits from the same economic development based on their individual needs.
He said, too, that the stelling will have a great impact on the livelihood of the residents, as it will enhance daily commute.
He added, “This is evidence that we want to integrate back in a manner that allows people to make their daily living, that is what the stelling is about. It is not about the $82 million, it is about making sure Fort Island is not cut off.”
Additionally, Minister Edghill, announced that following a meeting with the President, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali, the island will receive a golf cart to assist frail, vulnerable and elderly persons to traverse the island.
The minister announced that the Independence Day flag raising ceremony being held in Region Two for the first time ever will see vessels commuting the Essequibo Coast making five trips before 18:00 hours.
At 19:30 hours there will be a special service and after the flag raising ceremony at 1:30 am, vessels will also be working.
Meanwhile, the minister noted that through the T&HD, an online booking service will be implemented by September 1.
The modernised feature will provide citizens with the access to book, pay and reserve their seats on a vessel. This aims to monitor the number of bookings being made, which will result in reduction of persons overnighting at the stelling.
Present at the ceremony were Regional Chairperson of Region Three, Inshan Ayube, Transport & Harbours Department, General Manager, Marclene Merchant and Chairperson on the advisory board, Rosalinda Rasul.