Chairman of the Upper Demerara-Berbice Region, in a lengthy press statement hurled allegations at the current administration of discrimination and marginalization.
The Chairman shared his perspective on a number of issues that have been affecting his day to day operations in his post and by extension the residents of the region.
Read full press release:
“It is indeed a pleasure to be here in the capital city to share with you what is going on in our country, especially in my constituency of Region #10, which also encompasses the town of Linden, and to get to focus on issues which directly affect the residents of these communities.
REGION #10 AND LINDEN ARE FACING THE BRUNT OF PPP DISCRIMINATION, MARGINALISATION, BEING STARVED OF RESOURCES, INCOMPETENCE, CORRUPTION, AND, THE PURSUANCE OF DOMINATION AND CONTROL BY THE PPP GOVERNMENT. THESE WILL BE EXPOSED AND OPPOSED VIGOROUSLY BY OUR PEOPLE.
The People’s National Congress Reform has always had a special relationship with the people of Linden and Region #10; indeed Region #10 has been especially supportive of the PNCR and of the Coalition as part of the APNU. I want to thank the members of the PNCR who have reposed their confidence in me and elected me to the Chairmanship of the 9th Regional Democratic Council of Region #10. My commitment to you is to always stand with the people of Region #10, to represent their concerns and champion our fight for the development of Linden and Region #10.
While the rest of Guyana may not be familiar with the divisive and vile tactics that the PPP has employed to ensure that they punish the people of Region #10 and Linden for simply exercising their franchise to elect the people that they are certain can bring the type of development and quality of life that we desperately need, the people of our Region are acutely attuned to the selfish and divisive politics of the PPP, which has no place in a modern society and is entirely the opposite of the inclusivity and comprehensive development that the People’s National Congress and the APNU+AFC bring to the governance of our people.
Demolition of homes by bulldozers
Just yesterday, Councilors, businesspeople and many other Lindeners came together in an effort of solidarity and support and rebuilt the home of a mother who was forced to spend Mother’s Day without a roof over her head, simply because this PPP government decided that they have the force, guns and equipment to force poor residents out of their homes by razing them to the ground with bulldozers. And yes, I said force and guns because the bulldozers were accompanied by members of the Guyana Police Force, to enforce a letter from the Central Housing and Planning Authority demanding that the residents remove by May 12th, 2022.
Check your calendars to verify that today is indeed Tuesday May 10th, 2022. Today is still not even close to the deadline this notice gave to that mother and others, but bulldozers ripped apart her shelter and put her out in the rain between May 5th and May 6th, 2022. This is what the PPP is doing in Region #10, but you do not see and hear this because their propaganda machinery tells you all of the lies about what they are purportedly doing for the people of my Region. The reality is Region #10, inclusive of Linden, is being victimized, ostracized and punished by the PPP regime.
Laying off of Youths
Since 2nd August 2022, when the PPP was installed in government, youths in Linden continue to be laid off from entities such as the St. John’s Ambulance Brigade, Patient Care Assistants, the National Data Management Unit and many other entities. The PPP is placing Lindeners on the breadline. While the Vice President waves an offer of 800 TEMPORARY jobs that were supposed to be made available in three weeks. Our people do not have temporary needs. Children do not have a temporary need for food and shelter. Lindeners need a plan to create jobs. The PPP has no such plan.
Rudy ‘Wild Card’ Small must go
While the Vice President has proclaimed his Head of the Linden Hospital Complex a ‘wild man,’ the VP is silent as the “wild Man” continues to lay off employees at the Linden Hospital Complex whose appraisals show that they have been doing exemplary jobs. What is worse is that the Hospital “wild man” is allowed to use our taxes to build Trumpian walls in defiance of our building and safety codes, and refuses to fill vacancies so that our residents can find permanent work to sustain their families and receive better health care services. The PPP continues to impose this type of mismanagement and disrespect for workers in the health sector in Region #10. Nurses’ salaries have been slashed to the extent that some have been forced to take home G$300 for a month of work as a healthcare professional, simply for standing up for their rights against a tyrant who disrespects and denigrates them.
PPP has no plan for training and employment
The PPP boasted of having trained 184 persons through the Board of Industrial Training in Linden. Having trained them they have created no jobs for them. These are simply nearly 200 more persons that the PPP intends to continue to marginalize and trample since the PPP HAS NO PLAN TO EMPLOY THEM. They have no coherent strategy to ensure that these skills are utilized for national development.
But let us say for a moment that these persons may want to pursue entrepreneurship and want to become employers rather than employees. The PPP has ensured that this avenue for development is firmly shut in the face of residents of Linden and Region #10 by emasculating the Linden Enterprise Network, taking away its ability to empower entrepreneurs with supportive loans and refusing to reconstitute its Board of Directors. Indeed, even the staff of LEN faces difficulties receiving their salaries, and month to month the uncertainty of what will happen next with this much needed entity remains up in the air as the PPP’s starving of resources takes a tighter grip on residents of Region #10. The PPP MUST STOP STARVING Region #10 and Linden of resources. The Linden Hospital Board remains in the same situation, with no Board appointed to provide proper oversight of this important facility.
What the Coalition did for Linden
There are serious developmental projects that the coalition government has been pursuing for the people of Region #10 that we need to continue to bring into focus and exert the necessary pressures on the current administration to ensure they are executed. I speak here of the commencement of work on the Linden to Lethem road, upgrading the port facilities at lower Christianburg and at the Alumina Plant, the construction of a new bridge across the Demerara River at Linden, the resuscitation of the airstrip and attendant facilities at Linden, the rehabilitation of the Linden to Georgetown Highway, upgrade of the farm to market road from Millies’ Hideout to the Berbice River and the development of agricultural lands along that corridor, addressing the land tenure issues in acquiring the legal documentation to occupy, such as leases, titles and transport in a timely manner and the upgrading of the road between Kwakwani and Linden. If the PPP is serious about the development of Linden and Region #10 they must place these projects back in the budget. These Coalition projects will bring development to the people of Region #10 and Linden.
These are initiatives that the coalition saw as imperatives for the development of Region #10 and Guyana. These are projects of national significance and importance, and we will continue to push the PPP to put resources towards these projects promptly so that Region #10 and Guyana could reap the attendant benefits from these initiatives. Any delay in the execution of these projects puts the development of Linden and Region #10 on the backburner and is a SIGNAL TO THE PEOPLE OF REGION 10 THAT THE PPP DOES NOT CARE FOR THE PEOPLE OF REGION. We will continue to be vigilant and press the Ali administration to execute these projects in a timely manner.
PPP stifling agriculture in Linden
There is no attempt to even give lip service to providing for the people of Region #10 whom the PPP would want to claim they have at heart. When the RDC budgeted for vehicles to enable the Agriculture Development officers to provide services to the major farming communities in the Berbice River area, all were struck out of our budget, even while our farmers continue to clamour for these personnel to assist them. Produce, including red peas, eddoes, nuts, plantains, corn and pumpkin go to waste even as financing for the continued construction of the farm to market road from Millie’s Hideout at Linden is withheld and no marketing support is provided. The completion of this access road needs to be placed back high on the development agenda, to ensure that our food security is empowered. To do otherwise is to confirm that the PPP aim is to stifle agriculture in Linden in keeping with Ashni Singh’s claim that other regions have the comparative advantage in agriculture. The PPP’s claim is ridiculous. Region #10 must be allowed to become self-sustainable in agriculture.
PPP clean-up campaign just a photo-op
The government came to Linden for a photo-op exercise called a Clean-up campaign, even while they continue to starve the Local Government Authorities in the Region, the Linden Mayor and Town Council and the Kwakwani NDC, of resources to adequately maintain the cleanliness of these communities. Rather than provide these authorities with equipment such as garbage trucks, or the resources to hire staff to undertake the continued execution of the cleaning of the town, they chose to do a one-off photo-op to provide window dressing for their PR and CHANNEL FUNDS INTO THE POCKETS OF PPP LACKEYS IN LINDEN.
The problem is there is no continuity of this exercise, and if the government is seriously interested in the well-being of the people of Linden and Kwakwani they should put resources into these local democratic areas. Why is the government not engaging in the cadastral surveys and other attendant works necessary to have the new housing areas handed over to the municipality to improve its revenue collection? These areas need services, but remain outside of the revenue generating net of the municipality. These are serious questions we must ask of the current administration, but in the main I think we know the answers to these questions already. They are bent on starving us of resources and marginalizing and impoverishing our people
We have seen the government focus instead on constructing roads through the Ministry of Public Works to give the Minister the opportunity to come here to pretend to deliver projects to the people, while these roads deteriorate within a matter of months. And yes, the road constructed in front of the Linden Hospital Complex a few months ago already has several large potholes, testimony to the poor quality of work that the Ministry is providing to the people of Linden and Region #10.
Mandate and functions of the RDC must be respected
At the RDC, the government continues its campaign of ignoring the legally elected representatives of the people in many ways, and had it not been for the strong representation and actions of the Councilors of the 9th Regional Democratic Council, this situation would have been totally out of hand by now. Letters on important subjects written to Ministers have been totally ignored, and when the President himself was written to and this was pointed out, he too did not respond.
How then could we address the issue of the call by residents for a Fire Station on the Wismar shore, a dire need that residents have been calling for so many years now? How then could we get an answer to the call for a 4 wheel drive fire tender to go into the areas across Linden that the traditional fire tenders are poorly equipped to serve? And since Linden is not Region #10, it was only after going to the media on the issue of the need for a Fire Tender at Kwakwani to replace the one that was parked up there but was not working for over a year that this situation was resolved, albeit with a tender that proved to be incapable of addressing a recent fire, resulting in the loss of millions of dollars for a logger in the community. How are these situations to be addressed if no interaction or acknowledgement of these issues are forthcoming after the Regional Democratic Council has taken pains to record and represent them to the Minister? The PPP GOVERNMENT JUST PRACTICES BAD GOVERNANCE.
Calls for sports development in Linden being ignored by the PPP
While unemployment is an issue that severely impacts our youths and other sections of our populace, sport is an issue that is near and dear to our young people, but continues to be ignored by the PPP. The Council has made calls for the appointment of a Youth, Culture and Sport Officer in Region #10 which has fallen on deaf ears. There are token efforts of building a small basketball court that has no apron, becoming very unsafe for those who utilize it, with much fanfare at its handover, while facilities they need such as the synthetic track started under the coalition government are stalled and stymied by this administration. This Region, which boasts of producing Guyanese Olympians in track, field and swimming, has neither a synthetic track nor an Olympic sized swimming pool to nurture the inherent talent of its residents.
Award of Contracts poorly executed
The Central Government has been largely ignoring the representations made by the elected representatives of the Councils and making their own determinations about the needs and resources to be provided to the Region. They have been utilizing the waiver of Tender Board Procedures to award friends of the government contracts that have been poorly executed, without the necessary checks and balances of these procedures being followed and when these issues are brought by the Council to the attention of local and national level Tender Board authorities, absolutely no response is provided. Almost one million dollars a month is being paid to a Party activist for the storage of health supplies in Linden, when the Health Department has a compound in Amelia’s Ward that has enough vacant space to build a new hospital if needed, much less a storage bond. The PPP clearly is encouraging high levels of corruption by its lackeys in Region #10.
Even more than that, the Chairman of the Public Works Committee of the RDC has not yet signed off a single End Users Certificate for a project here in Region #10. These certificates are how a project is recorded as being completed satisfactorily and on the basis of which the final payment is made, but in this case, the Council is not allowed to verify that these projects are completed, but payments are made for sub-standard projects. This is another source of PPP corruption in Region #10.
This is why we end up with situations such as those obtained at Silvertown with the collapse of the road and drain; at 3rd Alley with the poor construction of the drain and at the Christianburg Primary School, where a contractor could have left the site without clearing it or putting back the septic system he had removed from the church.
They have recently broached the replacement of an Agriculture Scientist as head of the RDC’s Agriculture Department with a political hack identified as a ‘Coordinator of Agriculture’, without at least consulting the Council. They have appointed representatives of the Council to the Regional Tender Board, again without the involvement of the Regional Council and tried to change the RDC’s budget submissions without the knowledge and approval of the RDC. The RDC building, which was deemed unfit for occupancy since the 5th Council was in place nearly two decades ago, and where septic backups, flood the working quarters of employees, has been unceremoniously deleted from the budget, as the PPP demonstrates its scant regard for the people of Region 10 yet again.
The latest example of this is the signing of lease agreements at the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs for the villages of Malali and Hururu to engage in quarrying and logging respectively, totally without the knowledge and involvement of the RDC. At least the courtesy of informing the Council would be expected as these villages fall within Region #10. At Hururu, the Council has already had the experience of being called in when things go wrong with these types of agreements, such as the one previously signed with the bauxite company at Aroaima, and even more recently the request for intervention with taking over management of the school there and so the signing of these agreements with companies totally without the knowledge of the Council is a cause for concern.
In Sub-region #2, the situation is worse, since the PPP feels that they could get away with ill-treating the residents of these communities because they are remote in nature. The hospital built by the coalition at Wiruni remains without a doctor and furnishing these many years after completion. The River Ambulance fought for by the residents and made a reality by the Coalition remains stationed at Kwakwani, so by the time a resident falls ill, at say Kimbia, and the message reaches and the boat is readied for response, the patient is already in hospital in New Amsterdam because their family cannot await movement from so far and that untimely response. Calls for the ambulance to be stationed halfway along the river at Wiruni have been ignored and the people continue to suffer the consequences.
Pensioners poorly served
Pensioners along the Berbice River continue to report that now the officers come to distribute pensions once every six months, unlike the monthly distributions enjoyed when the Coalition was in office. Even when they do appear, these officers sit in the boat and expect elderly pensioners to navigate the boat landings to come to the boat to sign for their payments, rather than take the time to set up a desk on the shore at the various locations, and they sometimes disappear up or down river before pensioners are even aware that they are in the village for the payment of pensions. Projects which can be executed by residents of communities in the Berbice River are given to Party sympathizers from the coast that rush in, do shoddy work and leave the residents with the fallout of these substandard projects. Health care workers in these river communities have in some instances not received their salaries since January of 2021. The government needs to ensure that the people of the Berbice River get their Pension every month.
PPP anti-development actions must stop
The list of over-reach, mismanagement of the people’s affairs and anti-developmental actions of the government in Linden and Region #10 is too extensive to be adequately addressed in this manner. However, I am putting the government on notice that we are aware of these actions and will continue to take the PPP government to task to ensure that good governance prevails. I am convinced that good governance will only truly prevail with the coalition returning to government and so that my Team and I will continue to engage and mobilise the people of Linden, Region #10 and Guyana to ensure that this happens in the very quickest possible time.
Again, I thank everyone for the welcome they have given my Team and me, the confidence they have reposed in my Team and we look forward to working together to resolve these issues to the benefit of ALL of the people of Guyana.”