Gov’t rolls into Rupununi
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President David Granger receives a warm welcome from residents of Shulinab Village, Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo in 2018 upon his arrival in the village
President David Granger receives a warm welcome from residents of Shulinab Village, Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo in 2018 upon his arrival in the village

…to cover 28 villages in massive ministerial outreach
…local leaders give APNU+AFC Gov’t thumbs up

TODAY, the government will roll out a massive ministerial outreach in Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo) with some 19 ministers expected to be spread across 28 villages within a three-day period.

In those villages, government has pumped close to one billion dollars into the Health, Education, Infrastructure, Agriculture, Housing, Information, Communication and Technology and Transportation Sectors over the past three years.
On Thursday, Minister of Social Protection, Amna Ally, who is spearheading the outreach, told the Guyana Chronicle that all plans were in place for the government’s first major outreach for 2019.

St. Ignatius, Lethem, Moco Moco, Parishara, Nappie, Quarrie, Kaicumbay, Yupukari, Kwatamang, Rupertee, Annai, Aranaputa, Surama, Wowetta, Massara, Toka, Rewa, Katoonarib, Sarariwau, Aishalton, Auchiwib, Maururanau, Kraudar, Karasabai, Tiger Pond, Shulinab, Sand Creek and Hiowa, are the villages that will be visited by the ministers of government and their teams from today, Friday February 15 to Sunday February 17.

CHALLENGES
Once on the ground, the ministers will examine challenges facing villages with the intention of providing the necessary solutions. “Since we are going into all these far-reaching communities, we are also going to provide health services in some of these communities, so that the people in those areas can be exposed fully to dentistry, ophthalmology,” Minister Ally added. She noted that for many of the villagers in the Rupununi, it is either difficult for them to access some of the services or too expensive for them to travel to the capital city – Georgetown, when the need arises, as such, the government will be taking the services to the people.

Government, Ally said, has placed major emphasis on infrastructural development in Rupununi. In the Education Sector, the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) has invested heavily in the establishment of ‘smart classrooms’ as it pushes ahead with its plan to bridge the educational and technological divide between the coastland and the hinterland. Also, in the area of human resource development, women and youth have been given the opportunity to build on their ideas and businesses through the Sustainable Livelihood and Entrepreneurial Development (SLED) programme. “As minister responsible for social protection, I am going to examine many of the submissions from the various communities for these projects,” Minister Ally posited. A magistrate’s court was also constructed in Lethem to accelerate the rate at which criminal matters are heard in the region. Overall, she said, government has achieved much since it took office in May 2015, and it intends to intensify services to the region this year.

Region Nine Regional Executive Officer (REO), Carl Parker, told the Guyana Chronicle that from 2015 to 2018, the APNU+AFC Administration injected $950,176,582 or approximately $950.1M into the development of the villages that will be visited. Based on a progress report provided, those villages that fall within North, Central and South Rupununi received incremental increases to foster growth in education, agriculture, transportation and health, among others. In 2015, approximately $103.3M was injected into eight of the villages; in 2016 $242.9M was pumped into 19 villages within the Rupununi; in 2017, the figure jumped to $303.2M with 18 villages benefitting; and last year, approximately 16 villages benefited from $300.7M.

Toka is one of the villages that continue to benefit from developmental works in the region. Region Nine’s first Chief of Chiefs and Deputy Toshao of Toka, Eugene Isaac, testified of the progress recorded from 2015 to date. According to him, Toka now boasts of having one of the best sports ground in Region Nine. Its nursery school, which was in a deplorable state, was also rehabilitated.

But most importantly to the more than 300 people living in Toka, was access to potable water. It is expected that this year the government, with technical support from the Brazilian Army, will drill an artesian well in the village.

“We have never had a well. We have had experiments with wells in our community and all failed, and now there is a Brazilian team that is coming in and they are showing us that they are going to give us an artesian flow,” Isaac told this newspaper. He said the planned development will be a “big plus” for Toka.

Once villagers are able to have easy and frequent access to water, Isaac anticipates that the village’s agriculture sector will “boom.” “There was one time we were planting about 70-100 acres, and we kind of fall back with that but with water now, agriculture will boom,” he told this newspaper.

Already, wells have been drilled in other neighbouring villages. In November 2018, the government commissioned eight wells located in Aishalton, Chukrikednau, Karaudarnau, Achiwuib, Awaruwaunau, Marunranau, Shea and Baisahidrum. The project was executed through a joint venture between the Engineering Corps of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) and the 6th Construction Battalion of the Brazilian Armed Forces, with support from the Civil Defence Commission (CDC), Guyana Defence Force (GDF), Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI), Hydrometeorological Office and the Ministries of Communities and Public Infrastructure.

President David Granger greets a resident of St. Ignatius upon his arrival at the village for the Rupununi Heritage celebrations in 2018

In the area of infrastructure, the deputy toshao applauded the government for its continuous push to upgrade the Linden to Lethem Road, which is heavily relied upon by villagers throughout the Rupununi. He said once the road is upgraded and bridges repaired, cost of living in Region Nine will stabilise and the price of fuel will be reduced. Overall, he said the developments can be seen throughout the region. “I went to South Rupununi, there are several new bridges that have been built over the last two years, the roads have been upgraded…there is real development and you are feeling it now,” he posited.

Former Mayor of Lethem Carlton Beckles, in reflecting on the region’s development, said the district now has two new radio stations – one in Aishalton and the other in Lethem, representing a major boost for the information sector. Those radio stations now complement Radio Paiwomak in Annai, North Rupununi. Beckles, like Isaacs, applauded government on its move to drill wells within villages that suffer tremendously during the dry season.

Zooming in on Lethem, the former mayor said that prior to Local Government Elections in 2016; the town had no street lights. However, today, a number of street lights have been installed. “In Lethem, we have a four-lane road that is being developed, 2.4 km with pavement and underground drainage system. That is work in progress right now,” he pointed out. He said the construction and operationalisation of the magistrate’s court in Lethem was another one of the major achievements. “You used to have to wait three months before you could have cases being heard. Now you have cases being heard on a daily basis or three times per week,” he explained. Beckles said he looks forward to the government’s engagement with the people of Region Nine but more so, the increased development that would follow.

The ministers participating in the outreach include: Amna Ally, Dawn Hastings-Williams, Catherine Hughes, Raphael Trotman, Khemraj Ramjattan, Nicolette Henry, David Patterson, Dr. Karen Cummings, Basil Williams, Ronald Bulkan, Winston Felix, Valerie Garrido-Lowe, Keith Scott, Annette Ferguson, Sydney Allicock, Joseph Harmon, Jaipaul Sharma, Carl Greenidge and George Norton.

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