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Guyana, Suriname yet to decide on jurisdiction governing Corentyne Bridge

Last Updated on Friday, 16 October 2020, 13:45 by Denis Chabrol

Foreign Affairs Minister Hugh Todd.

Guyana and Suriname are yet to finalise several major issues, including jurisdiction, concerning the proposed Corentyne River bridge between the two neighbouring South American countries, Foreign Affairs Minister Hugh Todd said Friday.

“We haven’t gotten to that aspect of it. What we are doing right now, we are focussing on the technical specs, we are looking at financing and we want to be able to figure out what is the best model to use and we haven’t discussed jurisdiction; we haven’t done that as yet” he said.

Suriname’s President, Chandrikapersad Santokhi, during a visit to Nickerie earlier this month, stated that a number of Working Groups, including one on the Movement of Persons and Goods Traffic between Suriname and Guyana.

Mr. Todd was quizzed on which jurisdiction would apply in dealing with vehicle accidents and crime on the bridge that the two governments have committed to build. Some Surinamese believe that the highwater mark of the Corentyne River is its territory while the 1913 and in 1924 maps recognised by both sides state that the deepest point of the channel is the boundary between the two countries.

On the issue of financing, the Guyana Foreign Minister said a technical team has been established to “look at financing” the construction of the bridge. “We want to have a partnership arrangement with the government of Suriname,” he said, adding that governments usually get involved in big projects. He said much would depend on the model such as a public-private partnership.

President Irfaan Ali and his Surinamese counterpart are due to sign the agreement for the construction of the bridge when the Guyanese leader journeys to Suriname for that country’s independence anniversary.

The bridge is expected to be built from the western bank of the river about 2.5 kilometres south of the Moleson Creek Ferry Port across to Long Island and then to the eastern bank of the Corentyne River in Suriname.

Officials of the former Dutch colony say the bridge will help boost trade and stamp out customs evasion and other illegal activities.