Tapakuma’s development advancing

– Coalition Govt has done well – residents

DPI, Guyana, Saturday, November 16, 2019

Millions have been invested to advance the development of Tapakuma Lake Village, an Indigenous community located some 14 miles from Anna Regina on the Essequibo Coast, Region 2, and bordering Mainstay/Whyaka.

This was revealed by Toshao Aubrey Fredericks, who expressed appreciation to the Coalition Government for the tremendous support the village has been receiving over the last four years. Fredericks was speaking at community engagement in the region. Also present at the interactive meeting held at the Tapakuma Lake Primary School, was Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Hon. Sydney Allicock and Regional Executive Officer (REO), Dennis Jaikran.

The education sector, Toshao Fredericks pointed out, received a significant boost. Under the President Five-Bs (bus, boats, bicycle, books, breakfast) initiative, the village received a school bus to transport students to and from school at Anna Regina. The primary school students are also receiving hot meals through the School Feeding Programme, and the school building and headteacher’s quarters were upgraded.

“This has been a great help especially to the parents and we thank the government for that… the government has been doing a great job,” Fredericks stated.

Additionally, the 400 residents residing in the village can now traverse ‘hassle-free’ as the main access road leading into the community was upgraded for $3M. This was made possible through the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Capital Grants programme. The village also benefited from approximately $4M over the past four years in Presidential Grants. The latter was used to develop the village Tourism drive and other community projects.

In the area of health, solar-powered electricity systems were installed at the community health centre. According to Toshao Fredericks, “the health centre is in better shape now that it was in for years.”

In his remarks, Minister Allicock commended the village for its strong leadership at the level of the village council, and for fully utilising the support provided by the government for the benefit of the residents. This, he said, is crucial to the economic development of the village.

“I remember coming here a few years back, and I noticed there was some tension. Today, things are much better and I can see work is being done and this is what we want to see… I want to also commend you for partnering with the regional administration and central government to develop your community. I would like to see you continuing on this path.” He added, “when I first came here, it took a while to get here because the road was so bad. Today, we came in on a smooth surface, and I feel so proud.”

The minister used the opportunity to highlight some of the key achievements of the Coalition Government since it assumed office in 2015. He noted that the administration has established four new Capital Towns in Regions 1, 7, 8 and 9 to decentralise critical services to the people in those hinterland regions. Communication was also improved with the establishment of community radio stations and internet connections in communities.

Hinterland residents are now being provided with equal opportunities, Minister Allicock emphasised. Apart from the increase in scholarships, which are offered to youths to study at the higher institutes of learning on the coast, the government has constructed a $187M student dormitory in Georgetown to house the students. The first $130M Green Enterprise Centre at Bina Hill, in Region 9 will also be commissioned soon.

While much more work needs to be done, Minister Allicock said much has been achieved with the limited resources available. He, therefore, urged the residents of Tapakuma Lake to celebrate the positive achievements even as they craft their Village Improvement Plan (VIP) to further develop the village.

During the interactive session, the residents highlighted the need for more sporting facilities for the youth, including a swimming pool and technical training opportunities. They also requested that agriculture, as a subject, be reintroduced to the school’s curriculum and a sewing machine and public address system be donated. The villagers made a further request for an extension of their community’s land.

In response, Minister Allicock advised the village to apply to the ministry for the extension to their community land and committed to assisting the school with the items requested.

The REO Jaikram committed to engaging the Board of Industrial Training (BIT) to explore the opportunity of taking their training to the village. However, he urged the youths to take advantage of the Essequibo Technical Institute (ETI), which has a dormitory. He explained that the region is looking at an area to be earmarked for swimming after which training will commence for the youths.