Mon Repos, ‘My place of rest’

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From left) Chairman of the NDC, Ayube Mohammed; Sakina Nurse, Assistant Overseer; Parisram Ramkissoon, NDC Overseer and Kubjbharry Ramgopaul, Superintendent of Works

– but one of the busiest places on the eastern corridor

‘MON Repos’ is a French phrase which roughly translates to “My place of rest/my rest” and this week, the Pepperpot team took to the streets of this East Coast Demerara village to find that, quite ironically, the place is actually abuzz with activity. Stories by M. Margaret Burke. Photos by Samuel Maughn.

CHAIRMAN of the Mon Repos /La Reconnaissance Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC), Ayube Mohammed, looking back a bit, told the Pepperpot Magazine that prior to 1974, there were Village Councils, where every village was responsible for itself, after which the NDCs were formed with the holding of the first local government election. Then it was a convergence of some villages, such as in the case of the Mon Repos NDC with the villages of Good Hope, Lusignan, Annandale and Mon Repos itself.

Mohammed told the Pepperpot Magazine that while he was not born in Mon Repos, he started living there as a small boy in 1967 when he was six years old.

He stated that in his opinion, back then Mon Repos was an “insignificant village” and the village that had the repute in those days were Annandale and Lusignan, that had a Health Centre and a sugar estate.

He added that there was also a hospital which was owned by Bookers at the back of the village, where one of the Lusignan Prisons is now located. This hospital remained in place until 1982, when the Guyana Prison Service took it over.

Public vehicle scale
“In my view, Mon Repos being a small village, grew because of the market which made it famous. In 1967 when I arrived in Mon Repos, the market was already there, even though it just had a few stalls, with people selling on what was a mud street where the Bank of Baroda is, currently,” Mohammed said, adding that the selling took place on Saturdays.

He said that the market at Mon Repos was further established following the removal of a public scale, which was out on the public road for weighing vehicles that traverse the road from Georgetown to Berbice.

“That scale was placed there sometime in the 40s or 50s and only recently a part of it (the scale) was brought into the compound of the NDC office a few weeks ago, when the Chinese were excavating the road…all the superstructure was removed years ago, but the actual scale was there in the ground. It, therefore, became necessary to remove what was left of it for them to construct the road, because the last time that thing was used was sometime in the early 80s or late 70s. It was a huge scale,” he said.

Public Infrastructure
Meanwhile, the market in the village continues to grow and expand, with people coming from various parts of Guyana to ply their trades, especially on Saturdays and Sundays. “These are the bigger days for the market, where you see a lot of activities all day, from early in the morning. And so it is a spillover from the market that services the tarmac; it was necessary for this tarmac to be removed, because of the road construction. [It] is now going to be taken to a reserved area identified to facilitate farmers,” Mohammed said.

He informed the Pepperpot Magazine that because the market has continued to grow, with vendors coming from as far as Parika and Berbice, the NDC, with the help of the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, has gone a far way in creating a tarmac on a reserve area just next to the market.

As part of that service, most of the facilities offered in the market will be available to vendors and customers. These would include a sanitary block, potable water and other services, which, he assured the Chronicle, will soon be completed.

Boat- building and fishing
Mon Repos is also known as a big fishing village, because there are two ports in Mon Repos – one at the junction of Triumph and Mon Repos, where the koker is. There is also one at the junction of Good Hope and Mon Repos, where another koker is located.

The village is also known for boat-building, because it is one of the areas where the fishing industry thrives in Guyana. There are also ice factories in the area of Mon Repos north, which is the area being used by the fishing industry to store some of the fish, along with some agro-processors in the area as well.

Advancing with time
“However, the Mon Repos area is very, very big now because of the new housing schemes that were established. Originally, when Mon Repos was established in the 1940s, it was to house the people who were working with the estate – mainly cane-cutters. Also, it was just three streets; there was also the Mon Repos squatting area and the pasture area, which was mostly for farmers, as well as estate workers,” Mohammed said.

He informed this newspaper that originally the area was mainly for sugar cane and rice, but gradually grew out of what was the Booker’s Estate after they started giving out land the farmers. “It was like sometime in the mid-1940s, when the sugar workers came out of the logies and started building their own homes, after they were allotted these lots by Booker’s,” he said, stating that now the village is almost unrecognisable for those who may have left for a long time, because of the growth that the village continually experiences.

Mohammed noted that all of the villages within the NDC have been seeing the same amount of remarkable strides, with new housing schemes, improved infrastructural works and much more.