‘We are with you’
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President, Dr Irfaan Ali addressing residents of Siparuta during the meeting on Saturday (Office of the President photo)
President, Dr Irfaan Ali addressing residents of Siparuta during the meeting on Saturday (Office of the President photo)

— Orealla and Siparuta residents tell President

RESIDENTS of the riverine communities of Orealla and Siparuta, Corentyne River, East Berbice Corentyne, Region Six, on Saturday, welcomed President, Dr. Irfaan Ali to their respective villages and told him that they were committed to, and fully supportive of, his ‘One Guyana’ concept.

“We are with you”, “You have our support” and “We are behind you 100 per cent” were some of the phrases used by the residents after listening to the President’s plan and solutions to the issues affecting them.

The President began his presentation by asking a few questions.

“Today is about you, today is about listening to you; what are your thoughts on what we are doing? What are your new ideas that you have? What are your new dreams and aspirations? How can the Government be part of that journey of ensuring that you realise your dreams and aspiration?”

After listening to each and every concern raised, he addressed them and offered solutions.

Some were fixed on the spot while Local Government Minister, Nigel Dharamlall and Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha, along with other stakeholders were tasked with following up and ensuring everyone’s concern is addressed.

A section of the gathering during the meeting with the President on Saturday (Office of the President photo)

During his presentation, the President reiterated the importance and significance of every citizen to him and his Government, regardless of their race, creed or political affiliation.

“In this community, we are delivering on every single promise we have made to you. We do not have a different message for communities, villages, depending on who we are talking to. If you are Amerindians, Indo-Guyanese, Afro-Guyanese, Portuguese, Chinese; know one thing, you are part of ‘One Guyana’ and you will benefit equally from the opportunities, the programmes, the development that we want to deliver. The time in this country for race-baiting, when we seek separation by the way you look, for immature political thinking, when people believe they have superiority over another— that time has long gone. You the Amerindians are equally important in this country. You will benefit, you will get your fair share, you will be part of the development,” he said.

Speaking directly about the developments and programmes for the communities, the President underscored the value of the GOAL scholarship initiative. The programme is now available to the indigenous communities and provides them equal opportunity to access higher education.

He, however, noted that the programme alone is not enough.

“… we have to support them better, we have to invest more in ensuring we have the capacity in these villages, will help them get better access to the Internet facility, we have to ensure that all our teachers can sign on online from these communities and they can all become trained teachers right here in the villages. We have to support our nurses and our health care workers, right here from the villages so they can be connected to the Internet and they can all have the opportunity that their colleagues on the coastland and those closer to infrastructure can have. This is the vision, this is the journey; this is what we want. We want sports and cultural development. We’re working on enhancing sport opportunities, creating an enabling environment in which sports and culture can play an integral part in community life. It can play an integral part in uplifting communities and building of the concept of One Guyana.” he said.

While committing to the development of youth and making provisions for more disposable income to everyone, President Ali made reference to the temporary employment programme in the community.

“That is $2 million every month of new revenue that will come into this community to support the community economy, to support the local economy and to support the development of your community. This is tangible. This is real development. This is understanding the needs of our people and responding to the needs of our people…. No one will be left behind, all of us now must embrace this concept of development, all of us must embrace the opportunity that comes before us and all of us must reach out. We must reach out… this is a time for us to be imaginative; this is a time for us to realise our aspirations or ambitions. You have in this Government a team that is ready to embrace you, realising those aspirations,” the President said.

Meanwhile, with regards to issues on Housing and Water, a team from the said ministry will be visiting the community to look into those matters.

A request for a boathouse was made by residents of Orealla, to which the President responded that he will ensure it will be delivered before year end, using labour and material from the community. A commitment was also made to have the road leading to the community health centre rehabilitated before year end. In addition, a request was made for a jetty. An assessment will be made to see whether it can be included in the next budget.

Further, the need for a secondary school for both communities was highlighted.

“We are going to try to see what we can do in next year’s budget to have a secondary school to serve Siparuta and Orealla,” the President said and committed to expanding the nursery school in Siparuta.

In relation, to the road linking to the coast, the President said, “The road is something we have to do, we have to do it in phases; we’ve already decided that every year we’re going to continue to push forward until we have that road completed; so definitely you will see works continuing on the road.”

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