…leaves passengers stranded, miners, operators in a quandary
Scores of persons were reportedly stranded, while miners and airline operators were left at their wits’ end to determine their way forward with their allocation of critical supplies, cargo and passengers after the Eteringbang Airstrip located in Cuyuni/Mazaruni Region 7 was abruptly closed for 3 months to facilitate repairs.
Inews was reliably informed that the Eteringbang Airstrip Aerodrome was closed yesterday at 20:00 hrs and airplane operators and other personnel were only informed by the Aeronautical Information Services (AIF) of the scheduled closure at 17:00hrs on the same day.
This publication was told that all the parties affected such as the miners, operators and passengers who were scheduled to fly out are furious and questioning the need for the closure of such a ‘vital’ Airstrip.
A source informed Inews that other Aerodromes in places such Paramakatoi, Kopinang, Kato (Region 8) and Annai (in Region 9) are also undergoing repairs but none of them have been closed, the only difference was that pilots were instructed to “operate with extreme caution due to work in progress.”
The mining community has dubbed the closure ‘terrible’ citing the Eteringbang Airstrip as an integral transit base to supply fuel and food supplies. They also lashed out at the very short notice given by the AIF, positing that with a ‘whopping’ 3 months closure the least the Authorities could have done was inform them earlier so that they could have stocked up on supplies.
The airline operators also shared similar sentiments that were they informed earlier they could have put mechanisms in place as it pertains to their passengers.
They also noted that the closure of the Aerodrome for such a long period would prove deleterious to their businesses as they say that the Eteringbang airstrip is one of the most used runways in Guyana.
The “disappointed” operators and miners are saying that there is no need to close off the runway. They are suggesting that a compromise be made where planes could transit at least once a week or if it is feasible allow for pilots to use the runway but do so “with extreme caution.”
In the 2016 budget, over $1B was budgeted to upgrade the Hinterland airstrips. Eteringbang and Kurupung, Region 7; Paramakatoi, Kato, Kopinang, Monkey Mountain, and Mahdia in Region 8, and Annai, Region 9 were some of the hinterland airstrips slated for rehabilitation.