“Your elected officials must serve you; demand your rights” -Minister Harmon tells Kildonan residents
Georgetown, Guyana – (June 13, 2018) Minister of State, Mr. Joseph Harmon, on Sunday, urged the residents of Kildonan, East Berbice-Corentyne (Region Six) and surrounding communities to hold public officials inclusive of those in Regional and Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (RDC/NDCs) accountable as he noted that they have been placed there to serve the people and citizens must, therefore, demand that their interests and those of the community are addressed.
The Minister was at the speaking at a community meeting held at the Kildonan Community Centre Ground, where he addressed concerns raised by residents ranging from the condition of roads to drainage and irrigation issues. Minister Harmon told residents that Central Government will continue to play its part in ensuring that infrastructural needs are met but noted that the Regional and Neighbourhood Democratic Councils also share in this responsibility. He called on residents to hold them accountable just as they do the Central Government and admonished those regional and community leaders to work to ensure the interests of their constituents are properly represented.
“The sense I get in some of these communities is that our community leaders do not speak to the citizens and you don’t have to wait until a Minister comes for you to speak up. There are three tiers of Government; Central Government, regional and the local level and they have work to do. They have budgets. They are Government as well. They have funds to do things that affect your communities. You have to put pressure on these people, on the NDC, on the RDC because when funds are allocated. It is for them to provide a service for you citizens. If you know money has been allocated in the budget for works in your community and you do not see anything happening, there is a provision in the clause of NDCs, which states that you can go and petition the NDC. You can suspend the agenda of the NDC to deal with issues of citizens and you must exercise that right. Put the pressure on your NDCs and RDCs,” he noted.
Minister Harmon noted too that community leaders and regional and local officials must understand their roles and endeavour to function efficiently. The Minister said that citizens suffer the most when leaders become complacent and do not serve in the interests of those who elected them. “Our community leaders must face the community. If you cannot talk to your people and do things for them then they will not respect you or listen to you. You have to see people and see what they need,” he said.
During the meeting, Mr. Marvin Duncan, a resident who lost his home to a fire recently was also informed by Minister Harmon that 10 tons of white sand as well as 500 concrete blocks will be provided to aid his rebuilding efforts. This news was met with loud applause as Minister Harmon noted that the Government is a caring one and will ensure that all of citizens are provided with a better quality of life.
“We are a caring people and it takes some time for us to get to you but we will eventually get to you. We are committed to providing the good life to all Guyanese and for everyone, the good life means something different. To you Mr. Duncan, a good life might be building a road and putting in some street lights, to other persons, the good life might be putting more doctors at the hospital while to some people, the good life might be getting water, which they never had before. So when we talk about delivering a good quality of life, we are talking about addressing those things that affect you as an individual in a personal way,” the Minister of State said.
Meanwhile, Ms. Waveney Dorset of Union/ Number 53 Village, expressed gratitude to the Minister of State, who she said, was contacted about a month ago with a request for a new fence and the clean-up of the community centre ground in that area. She noted that already works have commenced and will continue during the course of this week.
Mr. Hazrat Hussain, also a resident of the region, noted that the residents of East Bank Berbice are happy and grateful for the works that have been taking place in that area, particularly the roadworks. The Government through the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, has undertaken the $1.2billion project, which will see the construction of five kilometres of roadway from Overwinning to Everton, equipped with new features aimed at bolstering road safety. The road, which is deplorable in the dry weather is impassable in the rainy season and had been a been request from residents for over 40 years. It had been a source of numerous protests under the former administration.
“We want to express thanks for all of the tangible work that has been taking place in the region. We express our heartfelt appreciation and thanks and we look forward to the future developments,” he said.
Chairman of the Region Six APNU+AFC Group, Mr. Kirk Fraser, urged all the residents gathered to resolve to work together to that more can be achieved collectively.
“I hope that today will be the new beginning towards a stronger and more committed approach to national development. I urge you to continue to work to ensure that the Government remains strong. We must recommit ourselves and efforts to the development of the country,” he said.