Monies earmarked to upgrade Gunns Airstrip – Min Sukhai

Masakenari is a remote village situated in the deep south of the Rupununi, Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo) and is home to the Wai Wai people – one of the nine Amerindian tribes in Guyana.

During a recent visit to the village, Minister of Amerindian Affairs, Pauline Sukhai informed villagers that monies have been earmarked to upgrade Gunns Airstrip which is located ten minutes away from the settlement.

The village’s rest house was officially opened

The decision was made after Toshao Paul Chekema made representation at the 2022 National Toshaos Council (NTC) Conference for the airstrip to be upgraded. Over 200 Toshaos also made representation at the NTC identifying priority areas to be addressed; subsequently, President, Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali announced a $3 billion financial support for Amerindian communities.

“Out of the $3 billion programme, we allocated $40 million to get an upgraded airstrip so that planes, aircraft can land both when it’s wet or even when it’s dry,” Minister Sukhai relayed to villagers.

Over the years, the village has been benefitting from the government’s support in social welfare and the ministry’s Presidential Grants, COVID-19 Economic Investment Fund and the distribution of ATVs, tractors and trailers for transportation and agriculture.

Amerindian Affairs Minister, Pauline Sukhai and Management Development Officer (MDO), Mohamed Nazim in Masakenari

It is also receiving additional financial support through the expanded Low Carbon Development Strategy.

A sewing centre was also established in the village to provide employment and income to women. Masakenari is also benefitting from the telemedicine project being piloted by the Ministry of Health.

Minister Sukhai expressed admiration for the Wai Wai’s eagerness to develop on their own.

“I want to thank you for your consistent contribution to development in your own village. I close by saying that our government remains a partner with Masakenari and you are welcome at any time to touch base with us,” she assured.

Masakenari’s sewing centre, which is providing income to women

On the sidelines of the visit, Minister Sukhai also opened the village’s rest house and kitchen which were renovated to the tune of $2 million utilising funds from the $10 million Economic Investment Fund/ COVID-19 Relief Fund.

This will contribute to the village’s tourism efforts and provide additional income to the village, Toshao Chekema said during a short interview with the Department of Public Information (DPI) in Masakenari.

He noted that monies from the COVID-19 fund were also used to build a kitchen for a second guest house that was constructed.