MARAD must expand to meet new port security threats – Min. Edghill

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana

…will see more capital investments, boats, helicopters

The Maritime Administration Department (MARAD) will have to expand and be the beneficiary of increased Government investments if it is to meet the growing port security threats that come with Guyana’s expansion as an oil and gas producer.

This sentiment was expressed by Public Works Minister Juan Edghill, while he was speaking at the opening of MARAD & DIRECTEMAR – Chile’s Port Security Workshop, which opened at the Pegasus Hotel on Monday.

“The fact that our profile has been elevated, our risks have also been elevated. So, we have to ensure that our ports are very safe. And today we’re emphasising the issue of port security… I can tell you that our waterways are becoming busier by the day.”

Public Works Minister, Bishop Juan Edghill

“You’re the operators. You’re the ones who facilitate and provide services to ensure that our ports function effectively and safely. So you know exactly what I’m talking about. We have to do things better. We have to be more efficient. We have to be able to embrace international best practices.”

According to Edghill, MARAD will also have to expand its operations to better be able to police the ports and waterways. This will include increased capital budgets and adding to their fleet of boats and even helicopter.

“When I came to office, one of the first things I said was that MARAD has to repurpose, reorganise and rethink the way we do things. We didn’t have an oil and gas division in MARAD. And we were an oil and gas producing country… we cannot behave as if Guyana is not a country of consequence.”

“So, we have to invest more, in terms of more capital investments, to equip MARAD. We have to be able to get more vessels, we have to be able to get more equipment. Sooner or later, I’m sure you’ll come and tell me that we have to get the helicopter.”

But he noted that as MARAD expands and acquires all those hardware, it is important they also have people who are equipped with the relevant training. And this is where the training Chile will be providing to Guyana, is crucial. The workshop took shape following discussions between Edghill and Chile Ambassador to Guyana Juan Manuel Pino Vasquez.

Last year, it was announced that Atlantic Ventures Inc (AVI) had partnered with Alexarya Corporation International of India to establish Atlantic-Alexarya Maritime Development Guyana (AAMDG) Inc, with a common purpose of developing Guyana’s growing maritime industry by constructing the Caribbean’s first Marine and Off-Shore Training Institute.

The facility is to be located at Friendship on the East Bank of Demerara (EBD). The maritime institute will focus on teaching practical skills to high-calibre seafarers to meet the highest standard of professionalism required in the ever-changing and demanding shipping industry.

The three main academic programmes offered to applicants at Atlantic-Alexarya Marine and Offshore Institute are the Pre-Sea Training, Officers Training and the Post-Sea Training.

In addition, a residential facility is available within the grounds of the Institute.

Applications are not limited to Guyanese; the training is open to nationals from around the Caribbean region. Upon completion, graduates will be awarded accredited certificates that will prepare them for careers both on and offshore as seamen, chief officers, captains, merchant marines, or any other job in the marine industry locally and internationally.

This joint venture will see developments in excess of US$35 million within the next five years. AAMDG will not only facilitate a Marine and Offshore Institute, but plans are already in place for the construction of a shipyard and dry dock to be used for shipbuilding, ship repairs, and complete ship management.

The tourism sector will also benefit from this large-scale investment through the development of river cruise and floating hotels in Guyana’s waters, along with worldwide vessel registrations being done through the company.