The government of Suriname has declared the illegal border crossing in Nickerie with neighboring Guyana, an official border crossing on Friday.
The authorities have tolerated this informal border crossing for decades as thousands of Surinamese and Guyanese made use of it because of its convenience. Dubbed the ‘Back Track route,’ the crossing with small speedboats is faster than using the official ferry connection and in turn, boat owners, among others, had a means of living by transporting people and goods via the route.
Over the years, successive governments have made attempts to legalize the Back Track route because of the high level of illegality along it, including the smuggling of goods, drugs, and weapons as well as the illegal trafficking of persons.
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Now government agencies such as the Immigration Service, police, and customs will be permanently present at the designated border crossing point.
“The illegal cross-border activities that took place on the ‘Back Track’ route in Nickerie are now a thing of the past. There will now be orderly border traffic for the benefit of Suriname and Guyana,” President Chandrikapersad Santokhi said on Friday during his visit to Nickerie.
The head of state indicated that the route, which connects the two countries, will have many benefits for both.
Santokhi urged the boat operators to follow the instructions of the authorities stationed at the location.
“We are convinced that this back track meets an enormous need. But as a government, it remains our job and responsibility to ensure that things are done safely and in accordance with legal regulations,” said the head of state.
According to him, this will bring many benefits to Suriname, especially in the tourism sector.
The president called on the residents of Nickerie to develop such activities that should result in increasing the earning capacity of the area.
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