— new health centre soon to be commissioned there
AFFIRMING that his name does not have to be on a list to serve his people and rebutting claims that he would have left the community, former Regional Chairman of Region 10, Sharma Solomon, who is now hot on the campaign trail, delivered an electrifying speech on Thursday evening at an Amelia’s Ward, Phase Three community meeting.
Solomon reminded those now residing in the newest scheme in Amelia’s Ward, that this could have only been possible with the establishment of a Ministry of Communities, as opposed to a Ministry of Housing, which was only responsible for undeveloped housing schemes, across Guyana.
Residents were presented with shabby environs, with only bulldozed trails to access their house lots and they were forced to struggle to make it their own, through blood, sweat and tears as he recalled he himself having to do, 20 years ago.
Post 2015, however, there was a complete change, Solomon said, which was only made possible with the formation of a Ministry of Communities and the will of the APNU-AFC Government, to raise the standard of living of Lindeners. “This government, in 2015, fundamentally changed that and gave to you a Ministry of Communities; let me give you its meaning. It means a total development of your lives, it means transformation of Amelia’s Ward, on how you should see living and life, not in just a shabby licking push down corner to find your life and find your living,” Solomon stressed.
Another fundamental stride made by the government to ensure communities are built and residents are empowered, was the return of Local Government Elections, which ensured that residents have representation, even at the community level.
“For 22 years, you were denied the opportunity of empowerment to identify leaders in your communities to represent those interest, so when you have those little shabby corners to live in and to have blood, sweat and tears to live in, no one was there to represent you. Now you have councillors that you would have identified, Amelia’s Ward, to represent you,” he said to loud cheers.
Communities are no longer plagued with run-down infrastructure, collapsing roads, etc., but are experiencing physical transformation through massive infrastructural development. Case in point is the Linden Soesdyke Highway, which is now being outfitted with lights, by the present administration. Solomon said as regional chairman, he made representation for this to be done and former Minister of Public Works, Robeson Benn, completely turned it down.
“This is quoted words, by our then Minister of Public Works, that Linden is a low-volume highway; that is the value of your lives in this community to that government. Today what we have, we see lights going up, in less than five years, we see lights going up on the highway. There was no miracle and that was only will and that government before was unable to do for you the residents, show the will to ensure you live decent lives.”
It is for these reasons that Solomon urged the residents to not chance their future by voting for the PPP administration and though the coalition has fallen down, it has gotten up many times and this is the government, truly deserving of a second chance to continue along the good path.
The former regional chairman said he will work hard on the campaign trail to ensure victory is returned to the coalition and urged all other politicians, whether they were enlisted as a candidate or not, to do the same thing.
“You don’t need to be on a list to be a politician, if that is what defines you, you should get out of this profession, your definition is not what defines you, your definition is willingness to show service to your people. I have always been here Amelia’s Ward and I will continue to be here.”
STIFLED US ECONOMICALLY
Giving a broader picture on how the former administration stifled the mining town economically, was former Regional Councillor, Charles Sampson, who alluded to the suppression of the bauxite industry. The veteran bauxite worker said he sat at many negotiation tables and can say first hand, that the PPP, never had Lindeners at heart and looked at key areas, such as its main economic activity, to destroy the town.
The first decision was to remove the no tax on overtime from bauxite workers, a privilege that was initiated by former President Desmond Hoyte. Hoyte, he said, also gave the same privilege to sugar workers; which stipulated, that tax must only be paid on 40 hours of their wages. The PPP, however, took this away from bauxite workers and this stifled the township even further.
“That impacted seriously on individuals, it impacted on businesses because there was not enough money to be spent on businesses since workers were now taking home about $9,000 less, so that was economic pressure from the PPP Government and from Jagdeo,” Sampson said, contending that it happened all because the town supports the PNC.
It was this government that brought back the no tax on overtime in 2016, much to the satisfaction of bauxite workers at Linden and Aroaima.
“Everybody started to smile because on average, they were taking home $36,000 per month but do the maths, for 10 years and you will see how much money would have been lost because of that move by the PPP. They have never been interested in the economical development of Linden.”
The PPP Government then pushed for little or no investment to come to Linden, despite the plethora of advantages this would attract, such as cheap power. The next move was to remove this main advantage of investment from the township by dictating that the electricity rates be hiked. Lindeners; however, strongly protested this decision, resulting in the 2012 struggle and the loss of three lives. It is for these and many more reasons that the former bauxite worker urged residents to not have them return to power.
Amelia’s Ward Constituency Representative, Lawrence Simon, said the APNU+AFC Government is a government for all. For Amelia’s Ward, there has been tremendous transformation in all sectors. In education, two new schools are being constructed in the community. Socially, the first-ever community centre was constructed which will provide for programmes to benefit youths, women, the elderly and even the differently-abled.
In health, the Amelia’s Third Phase community now boasts a spanking new health centre that will cater for residents who have been added to the community’s population. This will alleviate the burden of having to travel all the way to the health centre at the old housing scheme and will create jobs for residents. The health centre will be commissioned in a matter of weeks as only final touches are being done to the structure.