Community radio stations aim to empower citizens, promote greater inclusivity -President Granger says at commissioning of Radio Orealla
Georgetown, Guyana – (March 26, 2018) President David Granger said that the Regional Public Broadcasting Services are intended to empower citizens at the grassroots level through the creation of a more informed populace, the removal of inequality, encouraging greater participation and inclusivity in decision making on important national matters and improving village economies by giving residents a conduit through which they can promote their product and services to attract wider markets.
Speaking at the commissioning of Radio Orealla, the Head of State said that, “We are pursuing service to the people… This is an innovative programme and at the end of it every region is going to have a Regional Broadcasting Service Station. We are going to ensure that the entire Republic of Guyana is connected. Every Guyanese, everywhere he or she might go must be in touch with his national broadcasting service… Wherever you are in Guyana you must be able to tune to your National Broadcasting Service. Why? Because it is a public good. This service is not look after some personality or not to conduct propaganda,” he said.
He explained that access to reliable and accurate public information can play a significant role transforming communities, noting that this radio station will ensure that residents have up to date information on issues such as registration, voting, healthcare, education, citizenship, security and the environment. “It is impossible to overemphasise the importance of today’s activity. We are bringing a means of public information into this beautiful community. This event is…is not a one-shot, it is part of a total programme that will see the entire Republic of Guyana covered with this Regional Public Broadcasting Service…We are unleashing in Orealla today, the power of radio, the power of communication,” President Granger said.
Guyana and Suriname are the only two CARICOM countries that touch each other via the Corentyne River along which, Orealla, Siparuta and other riverine communities, are located. The President said that are important locations and the Government has an obligation to ensure that residents who reside in these communities, have access to all vital public services. “This village is important to us. This region is important to us and we are concerned about your welfare and your happiness… This radio will help you to participate fully in the economic life of the country and also to improve your own economic livelihood… Radio has always had a special place in the Guyanese community and it’s a shame that it has taken so long to come to certain communities,” the Head of State said.
Chairman of the Board of the National Communications Network (NCN), Mr. Enrico Woolford said that Radio Orealla, which will be transmitted via the 95.1FM frequency, will serve Orealla, Siparuta and other surrounding communities, allowing them to tell their own stories. He also informed that NCN is working to revitalise and reform its radio, television and online presence. He noted too, that community radio stations are meant to be exactly what the name implies, keeping the communities informed. “NCN believes in the relevance of radio for keeping people informed and connected and as a conduit to expose and display talents,” he said.
Similar sentiments were expressed by Coordinator of the Project, Mr. Rovin Deodat, who spoke of the positive impacts and endless opportunities a radio station can have on a community that was hitherto, cut off from the mainstream. “The coast was only the recipient of broadcast. This programme is part of a stated policy of the Government to include every single Guyanese…It is an investment that will be well paid off over time,” he said.
The building that houses this new radio station is brand new. However, NCN was able to save millions of dollars as a result of a strategic partnership with the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GTT). GTT’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Justin Nedd said that when his company was approached by the Prime Minister’s Office and NCN to host the radio station’s antenna on their transmission tower, they readily agreed because initiatives such as these fulfil a mandate that share with the Government, to improve communication in hinterland communities.
GTT invested in Orealla six years ago when it first installed the tower. In 2015, significant upgrades were done at the tower, which resulted in residents of Orealla benefitting from internet access via their smartphones.
Orealla Toshao, Mr. David Henry expressed his communities appreciation to the Government for this investment, which he believes, will open doors for the youths and provide residents with the long-awaited opportunity to promote their religion, economic and natural resources, way of life and tourism potential. He also informed that under the current Administration, Orealla has benefitted from an extended electrification programme and extension of their playground. Additionally, they have received a grant for the construction of a new stelling and will benefit from the services of a new water ambulance.
The advent of a radio station is a matter of great pride for residents of Orealla. Ms. Yvette Henry described today’s activity as a historic occasion and urged her fellow residents to take ownership of this facility and to ensure that it is used for the benefit of all.
Thus far under the Regional Public Broadcasting Service project, Radio Aishalton, Radio Lethem, Radio Mabaruma, Radio Bartica and Radio Mahdia have already been commissioned.
After the commissioning ceremony, President Granger distributed a quantity of sports gear and kites for the children.
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Acting Prime Minister, Mr. Carl Greenidge, Minister of Social Cohesion, Dr. George Norton, Minister of Indigenous People’s Affairs, Mr. Sydney Allicock and Minister within the Ministry of Indigenous People’s Affairs, Ms. Valerie Garrido-Lowe were also in Orealla to celebrate with the residents.