Essequibians welcome govt outreach

― successful outreach hosted at Damon Square, Anna Regina

― hundreds of residents brave the weather to have their issues resolved

DPI, Guyana, Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Hundreds of Essequibians turned out to engage ministers and government officials at its ‘Government comes to you’ outreach.

The service-oriented event was held on Wednesday, May 29 at Damon Square, Anna Regina on the Essequibo Coast. Representatives of more than twenty ministries and departments of state were present and helped patrons to resolve their issues and address their concerns on the spot.

Most persons who attended the outreach were there to seek answers to their applications for land, after applying more than 20 years ago – a common issue that was uncovered from the outreaches.

A 57-year-old grandmother, Bhowandai (only name given), was among those to have received positive feedback. At the outreach, she received a letter of allocation from Prime Minister, Moses Nagamootoo and Minister with responsibility for Housing, Annette Ferguson. An ecstatic Bhowandai said, “ah feel glad ah getting a house lot,” after seven years of wait.

Mother of three, Edelle Smith

Another relieved resident is Edelle Smith, a mother of three who said “ah fed up renting house” and exhibited extreme joy at receiving word of being allocated a house lot at Onderneeming. Smith told the Department of Public Information (DPI) it was a case of prayers being answered.

“I don’t want to live in rent house anymore… I got up, went down on my knees and prayed the 23rd Psalms and I did not expect to get it but I am so glad about it,” she elaborated.

Also receiving a speedy resolution to an age-old issue, a sweeper/cleaner, employed by the Ministry of Education, left the government’s outreach with much relief. Claire Spelling, employed at the CV Nunes Primary School for more than 11 years, is returning to co-workers with great news after having met with and discussed the current sweeper/cleaners salary with Minister of Education, Dr. Nicolette Henry. Assurance was given by the minister that in a matter of weeks, there will be a resolution to the benefit of sweeper/cleaners across the country.

“I feel happy. [The Minister] say that they’re working on it, they have something in the finance for us… they are working on it,” Spelling told the DPI.

Farmers and young people were also recipients of good news from the government outreach. They were assured that all Guyanese will enjoy the ‘good life’ and measures will continue to be put in place to achieve that which they have promised.

A pledge was made to the youths of St. Denny’s/Tapakuma Village for football, cricket and volleyball gear by May 31, by Director of Sport, Christopher Jones, following representation by Village Councillor, Carlton Fredericks.

“This Coalition Government is really doing something for us in the hinterland and I really appreciate that… development is happening…it is taking place and while I have a few more agencies to visit, I am given a positive response. They are attempting to provide on-the-spot response and later dates for those that need time to be resolved,” Fredericks related.

Minister of Public Telecommunications, Catherine Hughes also committed to the establishment of at least 12 additional Information and Communications Technology (ICT) hubs in the Pomeroon-Supenaam Region.

Meanwhile, 57-year-old Cozier Canal farmer, Amos Garraway said the authorities will be contacting the respective Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs) and Regional Executive Officers (REOs) “to solve the problem we raised… in all, this has been a very good experience. I hope they [authorities] follow up on what was requested.” Garraway spoke gleefully of having his concerns, regarding vending at the Charity waterfront, addressed by the Ministry of Communities.

Similarly, Lyvan Layne, another Cozier Canal farmer left full of hope having been told by Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA), Fredrick Flatts, that there are plans to clear drainage canals in the area, as soon as the rain subsides.

The Pomeroon-Supenaam residents were assured of further infrastructural development, tourism and security for the region.

In this regard, Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan said that a new police station is to be constructed at Aurora, as part of the Citizen Security Strengthening Programme (CSSP).

On the other hand, Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson reminded that there has been significant investment into the development of Essequibo starting with the rehabilitation of the Parika Stelling – the gateway to the county. He also expressed satisfaction with the ongoing sea defence and road works in the region and disclosed that the ministry will collaborate with the region to carry out the infrastructural works.

“We’re looking to do some waterfront development projects in Charity… going forward we’ll be doing a lot of streets at Lima Sands Phase One and Two, the road to Lake Capoey, etc,” Minister Patterson disclosed.

Adding to the plans for the region, homegrown Essequibian, Minister of Business, Haimraj Rajkumar is pushing for Pomeroon-Supenaam to become a tourist hotspot. He told the DPI that Essequibo has a lot of untapped resources.

“We have the lakes. The Supenaam waterfront is developing into a gem… Essequibo is no longer a Cinderella country; it is moving up and moving forward,” he emphasised.

The Department of Citizenship also delivered relief to an entire Capoey family. 83-year-old, Jean Edwards and her sons 66-year-old Joseph Francis and 57-year-old Paul Conyers received assurances of birth certificates for the first time in their lives, at the government outreach.

Community meetings

Following the outreach, ministers fanned out to various communities across the region. During a meeting at the Aurora Secondary School on the Essequibo Coast, Prime Minister, Moses Nagamootoo emphasised that youth development is crucial to a nation’s progress.

“President David Granger and I are looking at the possibility of abolishing fees at the University of Guyana in our second term in office,” the Prime Minister disclosed.

He assured residents of the region that the Coalition Government is working to ensure the good life for all. The Prime Minister also pledged to donate $100,000 in sport equipment to the Pomona Football Club to aid the overall development of the youths in the community.

Over at Henrietta, Public Service Minister, Tabitha Sarabo-Halley urged residents to unify and use self-help as a mechanism to solve some of the issues raised.

Maxine Stewart, a resident, said the outreach hosted in the region will set in motion, the vision for a cleaner and better Henrietta community. She highlighted the condition of the Anna Regina Market, youth unemployment and public security as areas that need to be addressed.

At Lima Sands Primary School, residents took the opportunity and came out in their numbers to meet with Minister of Social Protection, Amna Ally. Community members of Lima Sands did not hesitate to voice their concerns; most of which were deemed “priority”. The urgent need for water supply at the Lima Primary School was raised by 47-year-old Fire-fighter, Egnaught Soneer who explained that on many occasions the Anna Regina Fire Station had to supply water to the learning facility. He expressed disclosed that pupils have to fetch water from long distances and also raised that some of the areas of the school are “infested with dangerous reptiles”.

Soneer was visibly relieved when the senior minister assured that the relevant individual will be contacted before the end of the evening for a resolution.

Among other concerns raised were the rehabilitation of roads, the need for a water treatment plant in the district and the enhancement of a playpark in Lima Sands for recreational activities, mostly for the youths.

Minister Ramjattan and Minister Ferguson also met with residents of Lima Sands and surrounding communities. Minister Ramjattan urged parents to “prepare your children for the future” adding that with oil production set to commence in a few months, the government will be investing in every sector and the onus is on the residents to be prepared.

“Times are going to be better, but we must also get ourselves prepared for that better day… It means we have to prepare our children,” he underscored.

Minister within the Ministry of the Presidency with responsibility for youths, Simona Broomes visited with residents of Danielstown/Sparta and surrounding communities. They commended the government’s initiative to fan out to local communities on the Essequibo Coast to meet with the locals. Some of the issues raised include street lighting, recreational facilities for youths, clogged drains, issues with the Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI) and the unavailability of a fishery for fishermen in the area, among others. Minister Broomes gave assurance that the issues raised will be addressed promptly by the respective authorities.

She urged residents to hold their leaders more accountable if they are not addressing the issues raised with a level of urgency.