Last Updated on Monday, 27 September 2021, 12:25 by Denis Chabrol
In the face of a gripping shortage of basic consumer items, the Region Nine (Upper Takatu- Upper Essequibo) administration and the Lethem Town Council have lobbied government to reopen the border to cargo and limited passenger traffic from October 1.
In the letter dispatched to Prime Minister Mark Phillips on September 26, 2021, Regional Chairman Bryan Allicock, Regional Executive Officer Karl Singh and Lethem Mayor John Macedo recommended that Port Lethem be opened on Thursdays from 7 AM to 5 PM for large and small scale goods, and 15-minute openings at 8 AM, 1 PM and 6 PM for vaccinated residents of Guyana and Bon Fim.
The Regional Chairman, Regional Executive Officer and the Lethem Mayor specifically stated that only residents of Guyana and Bon Fim would be allowed entry on either side if they show identification, proof of residence and proof of being “fully vaccinated”. The recommendation states that a health team would be placed at the port of entry/ check point “to conduct medical screening for everyone that crosses the border” at a monitoring station before moving on to the relevant authorities.
The officials are asking for the reopening of Port Lethem “after careful examination and consideration of the escalating situation which has been affecting the local economy, regional services and residents at large.”
Describing themselves as the “leadership” of Region Nine, they told Retired Brigadier Phillips that while they “understand the need and reason” to keep the border closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic ion Brazil, “there is still an urgent need for goods and services that is necessary which are not accessible from Georgetown that will keep our local economy, businesses and services afloat.”
For almost one month now, protesters have blocked numerous trucks that are laden with goods destined for Guyana until Guyana agrees to open the port to individuals to come to Guyana and shop.
The regional and municipal leaders told the Prime Minister that the recommendation for a limited reopening of Port Lethem was made after consultations with all business and relevant authorities in Region Nine to ensure that they understand the current undertaking and the impact it could have if anyone disobeys it. The Regional officials are also recommending that all businesses adhere to the COVID-19 guidelines set out by the National and Regional Task Forces as well as facilities must be put in place for “continuous sanitisation” by customers and businesses.