Few from my generation know about the railway station in West-Suriname and the industrial city that Apoera could've been. Don't blame them though, because the history books don't mention it (yet). I only knew about it, because my dad had mentioned it a few times and I was/am fortunate enough to have seen it with my own eyes.
When talking about West-Suriname we mainly mean the regions Apoera, Avanavero falls and Kabalebo resort, with the Bakhuis mountains. In the sixties through seventies Suriname's government approved the feasibility studies of the presence of mineral resources in this zone, done by consultants like Interfor, Harza, Salzgitter, World bank, Norconsult, GMD, CONS, etc. Out of the outcomes came the development project West-Suriname plan, from the hands of Dr. Ir. Frank Essed. They found an estimated 300 million tons bauxite reserve, unknown amounts of copper and iron ore. Furthermore, there was the option to built a second hydro power plant in Suriname, that could have supplied eight times (1.000 MWe potential waterpower) the amount that's being provided by the current hydro power plant.
To realize all of those development plans the government began the investments in infrastructure, starting with opening up seven airports in the jungle, a 52 km. road from camp 52 to Apoera (intended to be the capital of West-Suriname), a road form Avanavero to Matapi, etc., the building of homes, a port to harbor sea vessels and sports and leisurely accommodations. And the most striking to me was the railway from Bakhuis to Apoera. Even the local entrepreneurs were planning to move to Apoera to open up shop(s). With the infrastructure in place agriculture, forestry, tourism, community development, etc. could have thrived. All these investments cost the state approximately 300 hundred million guilders.
And then the military's coup d'état in the eighties happened. The military's leaders halted all the plans, because they found the plans to be unrealistic. All the investments that could've been plundered were stolen and sold. Some parts of the work sheds and bridges are even now standing in Guyana. All that's left of Apoera is an almost ghost town, with not a lot of job opportunities and no future prospects in the coming years for the locals. The railway station has almost completely been taken over again by the jungle, with bees, bats and other vermin taking up refuge.
It broke my heart to see the remains of something that could've been beautiful and thriving. Only in Europe have I had the luxury to travel in a train, while this could've been a commodity in my own country. West-Suriname is now but a beautiful distant forgotten dream. Wondering if Suriname will ever become developed, with all its potential being used in the correct, just and honest way. Time will only tell.
Does this story of West-Suriname seem familiar to you; investing hundreds of millions into something that could've been profitable, only to be squandered by a few?