By Jainarine Deonauth
The Governments of Guyana and Suriname on Tuesday signed a formal agreement for the construction of a bridge across the Corentyne River, physically linking the two countries.
The agreement was signed by Guyana’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Hugh Todd and his Surinamese counterpart, Albert Ramdin in the presence of the Presidents of both countries.
The two sides also signed the agreement for the strategic dialogue and cooperation between the Governments of the Republic of Suriname and Guyana.
The agreements were signed following a meeting between the two leaders and representatives of both sides.
“We had a very fruitful meeting,” said President Chandrikapersad Santokhi during a joint press conference with President Irfaan Ali.
“This bridge is not only to facilitate the movement of goods, trade and cross border cooperation but it also symbolises a transition from the old to a new era, the era of wellbeing and prosperity of people, and freedom, democracy and the rule of law,” President Santokhi said during a brief statement.
Santokhi noted that it was a great honour and privilege to have hosted the first meeting of the strategic dialogue and cooperation platform, together with President Ali.
Similar sentiments were echoed by President Ali. He noted that once constructed, the bridge will not only serve as a permanent physical link between the peoples of Guyana and Suriname, but more importantly to the rest of South American continent.
He noted that the Governments of Guyana and Suriname recognise the enormous benefits the bridge can bring in the areas of transportation, tourism and trade.
Dr Ali revealed, during their engagement, the two sides reviewed the progress made on issues agreed upon back in August when President Santokhi and his team visited Guyana.
He said the joint working groups will meet expeditiously to activate the work programme.
Dr Ali further noted that it was agreed that issues affecting the resumption of the ferry service will also be urgently resolved.
Additionally, he said that the two sides explored business and tourism opportunities for both countries; these include possibilities for a free trade zone and enhanced land value.
In relation to the oil and gas sector of both countries, he said, the two sides recognised that there is need for synergies to be created.
“In terms of shore-base and deep-water harbor, we are exploring synergies, and this is where we are, when we talk about local content, because of how the industry would emerge, you can either be in direct competition with each other or you can be supporting each other with synergies that bring benefits to both countries.”
He noted that this is why establishing the necessary infrastructure is critical.
The Republic of Suriname will celebrate the 45th Anniversary of its Independence on November 25.
An Extraordinary Session of the National Assembly will be convened at which time President Ali will deliver a congratulatory message.