Over $4B approved for Region Nine

A whopping $4.1 billion has been approved to ensure significant developments are undertaken in the Upper Takutu/Upper Essequibo (Region Nine) under its 2022 work programme.

While defending the region’s budgetary allocation, Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, Nigel Dharamlall, M.P., told the Committee of Supply that the region has been severely neglected for many years.

Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, Nigel Dharamlall

He noted that since assuming office in 2020, government promised to improve the lives of the residents, and while this year’s budget would be unable to properly address every issue within the region, it is a start.

To this end, $191.5 million will be used to enhance the delivery of education in the region. Students of Sand Creek Secondary will soon benefit from the construction of a female dormitory while the Aishalton Secondary School dormitory extension will be undertaken.

Money has also been earmarked to establish a Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE) building at Lethem for trainee teachers. This provision aims to provide living accommodation for those who wish to further their studies at the institution.

Further, rehabilitation works will be done on the Annai Secondary School, while construction of sanitary blocks will be done at Shea, Karaudarnau and Achiwib nursery schools, and at the Aishalton Primary School.

Construction and rehabilitation will also be undertaken at the Karabairu Annex and Para Bara primary school, respectively.

“For the first time, we would be constructing a primary school annex at Parabara since the children have to traverse across mountains every day to get to school.”

According to the minister, the investments will provide youths on the coastland and hinterland regions with equal access to education services.

Some $194 million has also been budgeted to improve the region’s health sector. This will see the construction of an Infectious Disease Centre at Lethem, rehabilitation of the Annai Hospital and maternal ward at Aishalton Hospital.    

Lethem Hospital will also establish audio, speech and language rooms. Services there will be further boosted through the procurement of an ambulance, pediatric ventilator for the neo-natal ward, and anaesthetic machines, among others. Several health posts have also been identified to be converted into health centres.

Meanwhile, $84 million has been set aside for road works in the region. Minister Dharamlall said the works will complement the projects that will be executed by the Ministries of Public Works and Natural Resources.

“We are doing repairs to 2 kilometres of the road at Karasabai, the internal road for Wowetta, road at Massara which suffered some serious damage from the previous flood, the road from Shulinab to Potarinau, which has not been looked after for a long time, as well as roads in Rupertee,” he stated.

Works on the road from Karaudarnau to Achiwib will be raised, graded and compacted while sections of roads in Central Lethem will be done with asphaltic concrete.

Minister Dharamlall said that Tiger Pond, Pai Pang and Kokorite residents will benefit from the construction of wooden and concrete bridges. They will also see the erection of a concrete bridge at Irimiz, creek. Some $60 million has been earmarked for these infrastructural works.

“Sometimes you would probably see a flat savannah in the dry season, but in the rainy season some areas would have deep ponds. So, we have to build some solid cast culverts in these areas Achiwib, Sawariwau and St. Ignatius at the cost of $38 million.”