…similar payment system touted for Suriname route by January
After decades of operating with in-person booking for ferries, commuters for the first time will be able to secure their spot using an online booking system.
“Ferry Pass” was launched on Saturday at the Parika Stelling and will be running concurrently with current operations to make bookings easier.
Phase One of this initiative includes only the route between Parika and Supenaam, with MMG offering the payment solution. Online reservations will get first preference against those who prefer the in-person ticketing system.
The platform can support other routes but this pilot will monitor operations and usage. Phase Two will entail other payment options and provisions for differently-abled persons.
Public Works Minister Juan Edghill dubbed this introduction a big difference in the lives of people using the ferry service, with reduced loss of time since patrons can bypass having to show up hours before to secure a spot.
(L-R) General Manager of T&HD Marcelene Merchant, Public Works Ministers Juan Edghill and Deodat Indar, and General Manager of GTT – MMG Bobita Ram at Saturday’s launch
“A system that is transparent, accountable, accessible, where it’s not left to the discretion of an individual at any level, but is one that is open to the entire public makes travelling easier and more comfortable and saving lots and lots of time. And that is what Ferry Pass will do…This is making life easy for everybody. And it is making the system one that is fair and predictable,” Edghill underscored.
The Minister added that there have been complaints of persons abusing the system, leaving others disenfranchised. This new addition, he related, is an avenue to stop corruption.
“We have to stop the corruption. We have to stop the occasion for corruption. Oftentimes, the people who complain about the corruption are the people who participate in the corruption or when you do work for them. That’s when they complain.”
By December 1, this mechanism will be available for the Supenaam to Bartica route. Later in Jan 2023, online booking for Leguan, Wakenaam, Mabaruma, Port Kaituma and Morawhanna and Fort Island will come on steam.
The Minister also added that by Jan 2023, online booking for the MV Canawaima, which plies the Guyana to Suriname Route, should be achieved.
“We must work with our Surinamese counterpart and we must put online booking for the MV Canawaima by January 1, 2023. We must get it done. It is the same form and that is the direction we’re going, so people don’t have to drive all the way to Moleson Creek, sleep in a car waiting to get on. If we did it at Supenaam-Parika, we can do it anywhere else,” the Minister told stakeholders.
Meanwhile, General Manager at MMG, Bobita Ram shared that the Guyanese public should look forward to more technological changes to bring comfort and ease while accessing services. To date, MMG has over 100,000 users.
“When we were invited to collaborate with Transport [and] Harbours Department on creation of Ferry Pass, we immediately saw the many benefits such an initiative would bring the commuters, first of all by saving time, easing the stress of wondering whether or not their vehicle would make it on the ferry and enhancing accountability overall.”
She added, “More initiatives driven by technology and the desire to bring ease and convenience to everyday lives. Let me stress on the words ease and convenience, since these are the pillars on which MMG services are delivered since our launch nine years ago, and since then, has radically transformed the payment landscape of Guyana.”
According to her, other Government agencies that require in-person payments should consider other technological and cashless platforms.
Minister within the Public Works Ministry, Deodat Indar underscored under the Transport and Harbours Department, infrastructure has been under the microscope to ensure a smooth flow. He shared that persons can be frustrated with the current system, and it can sometimes disadvantage commuters. Even with this system, Indar said, monitoring is present for a fair process.
“It will have to be managed properly. Because if you have a parallel system working, which we’re doing now, is to have an online booking system with a manual one just to make sure there is no failure in the holes of the whole transport system. People booking sometime can frustrate people too. So, we are asking people when to the online booking, do it honestly,” Indar reassured.