Execution of Corentyne Bridge project should be marked by affordability & mutual benefit – SGCC

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana
Members of the SGCC Board with Government Officials

See full statement from Suriname Guyana Chamber of Commerce:

The Suriname-Guyana Chamber of Commerce (SGCC) applauds the recent meeting between Suriname’s President H.E Chandrikapersad Santokhi and Guyana’s President H.E Mohamed Irfaan Ali, held on March 23rd, 2024, in Guyana.

This pivotal gathering focused on advancing discussions for a bridge over the Corentyne River, signifying a monumental step towards solidifying the bond between the two nations.

The SGCC commends the involvement of key ministers from both countries. This further emphasizes the project’s critical nature and signifies a unified effort to realise a vision that would reshape the regional dynamics of both countries.

Suriname’s Ambassador to Guyana, Ms. Liselle Blankendal, echoed this sentiment: “The bridge between Suriname and Guyana is more than just steel and concrete; it represents the culmination of years of collaboration, vision, and determination. It symbolizes both countries’ commitment to connectivity, progress, and mutual prosperity.”

Chair of the SGCC, Dr. Vishnu Doerga noted that “Guyana and Suriname have the best chance at full economic integration due to our geographic and historical ties. The bridge will serve as a critical economic driver for both countries allowing for both populations to experience the best goods and services from each respective country with more efficiency.”

This bridge, a physical manifestation of the connection between Suriname and Guyana, would serve as a cornerstone for regional integration. It would facilitate the movement of people, and enhance trade and investment opportunities.

While SGCC is particularly encouraged by the positive feedback received from our members through a recent survey, which indicates a strong belief that the bridge will significantly increase the free movement of people and goods across the border, it is paramount to recognize that the physical connection the bridge provides is just one piece of the puzzle.

The true potential for enhanced agricultural cooperation, tourism promotion, and economic growth leading to sustainable prosperity for both nations lies not only in the steel and concrete of the bridge itself.

Our members strongly emphasize that without a concerted effort to reduce bureaucracy, streamline logistical processes, and dismantle other non-physical barriers, the bridge will not be able to fully “earn back its money” or realize its true potential. The SGCC thus urges the governments of both nations to take these concerns seriously and consider them in their planning and execution stages.

Addressing these challenges in tandem with the construction of the bridge is critical to unlocking the full scope of benefits the Corentyne bridge can bring to both countries.

As the Presidents prepare to enter the project’s next stage, focusing on pricing, technical aspects, financing, and operational modalities, SGCC expresses its full support for these efforts. The SGCC is confident that the collaborative approach adopted by the two governments will ensure that the project’s execution will be marked by affordability, efficiency, and mutual benefit.

As the anticipation for the Strategic Dialogue and Cooperation Platform (SDCP) meeting in May 2024 grows, the SGCC looks forward to contributing at various levels, offering the perspective and expertise of our members to ensure that the bridge project not only strengthens the economic ties between our nations but also fosters a deeper sense of community and shared destiny.

Guyana and Suriname stand on the threshold of a new era of prosperity, connectivity, and regional cooperation. The chamber commits to remaining an active partner in this journey, championing the benefits of the bridge and advocating for the interests of our members to ensure that this project achieves its full potential for the betterment of both our countries.