LINDENERS were urged to embrace and celebrate the very unique commodity of a main river passing through their town by coordinator and environmentalist, Samuel Wright. Wright gave this charge on Friday morning, at the Linden River Front Development Forum. This forum was the opening activity of the 2019 Linden River Front Festival which culminates on Monday, with a grand regatta.
Wright described the forum, which saw in attendance Director General of the Guyana Tourism Authority Donald Sinclair; Mayor of Bartica, Gifford Marshall; President of the Linden Chamber of Commerce, Victor Fernandes, amongst other officials and stakeholders, as the most important activity on the calendar of activities, as it seeks to raise awareness on how important the river front is to the lives of every Lindener. Wright opined that everything that happens in Linden affects the river and Lindeners should take greater cognisance of this. “If we can manage the river front, we can manage Linden,” he told the audience.
The Demerara River, which divides the town in half, connects all the water ways including valleys, springs and creeks and therefore all the activities; domestic, commercial or recreational that occur in these waterways, affect the river. There is need for sensitisation in this regard, as there are two water plants that source water from the river, to supply residents on the Wismar shore. In addition, as bauxite mining is one of the main economic activities in Linden, this can only be facilitated by the Demerara River for ships to transport the bauxite. Wright said that Linden should be deemed as a port as the river not only facilitates bauxite transport but other necessary commodities for not only Linden, but other riverine communities in the Upper-Demerara Region. Before the construction of the Linden Soesdyke Highway in 1960, the river was the sole means of transporting commodities.
Giving additional insight on the importance of the river to Linden and the reasons Lindeners should realise how essential it is to their daily lives was DG Donald Sinclair. He touched on the many purposes of the river, hence the reason it should not be taken for granted. “The river you take for granted is part and parcel with your daily lives,” Sinclair reminded.
His presentation however, focused on the tourism potential of the river and urged stakeholders and officials to create space for business and tourism enterprise along the river front, such as boardwalks, promenade, regattas, river-front facilities etc. Wright and team were commended for hosting the River Front Festival for the fifth year. An extensive River Front Development Plan, he said, must however, be integral to an overall area or regional development plan. The overall aesthetics of the river and its immediate environs must be maintained as the water and land connect, and must be viewed as an integrated system.
Following presentations, discussions were held on how stakeholders can really come together to ensure this long-talked-about plan can see fruition. Mayor of Bartica, Gifford Marshall, shared the approach taken by the Bartica Town Council to development what has been deemed, one of the most beautiful river fronts in Guyana.
Some strides have been made in this regard and the Regional Democratic Council has commenced a boardwalk development in the centre of the river front. The first phase will be done to the tune of $10M. Linden also now has its very own water deck which boast a restaurant and bar at the Watooka Guest House. Youth Groups have also been involved in clean-up activities at the river beds. Several outdoor culinary and refreshment spots are also opening up on the Mackenzie shore of the river.