The letter in SN on November 8 from a Berbice resident concerning GPL and the continuing black-outs in Berbice-Corentyne is but one of the examples of mismanagement by this government in relation to the people of Berbice (‘Proud of Berbicians standing up to GPL…‘).
During the election campaign last year, I was literally confined to Berbice by the dictates of Robert Persaud, and therefore became quite acquainted with the problems facing the people of that region. By the way, Editor, the money spent on the political campaign in the Berbice region would, I am sure, amount to more than was put out to help the farmers of Berbice during Mr Persaud’s tenure as the Minister of Agriculture. (Were subsidies ever granted to the Berbice farmers so that they could ‘grow more food,‘ one of his slogans while he was in office?) Remember, Editor, that slogans and taxpayers‘ money spent on ‘growing more food,’ have still resulted in increasing food costs for the people of Berbice and the rest of Guyana. If we had grown more food then food prices, especially for the basics, would have gone down for Berbicans.
But yet Mr Persaud was rewarded with a bigger ministry after spending over $200 million on a failed campaign and failing miserably as Minister of Agriculture.
Editor, since the last elections, I have been back to Berbice quite a few times to assess for myself what has been done for the residents there since Mr Ramotar became President last year, and I have found out for myself, that, as the writer of November 8 stated, nothing much has been done, especially in tackling job creation and investment initiatives so critical for growth and development.
The foul-ups of GPL and the electricity sector should be blamed squarely on Mr Sam Hinds, and as a PPP/C candidate I have repeatedly called for his removal, not only from the electricity sector but from the PM position he has held for the last 21 years. Mr Ramotar placed Dr Ramsammy as Minister of Agriculture and to this day, even though Dr Ramsammy and myself talked about the outfall trench at Skeldon and the need to clean it out to the Corentyne River so as to avoid flooding in the areas around, nothing much has been done and the residents will still face flooding and loss of income.
In the year of Minister Ramsammy’s tenure, the sugar workers are really worse off as food prices go up along with everything else, and the strikes at Albion and elsewhere tell their own story.
At Port Mourant, President Cheddi’s birthplace and the home of one of Guyana and the world’s greatest cricketers, Rohan Kanhai, the playground is a disgrace and the internal streets are in bad disrepair, not to mention the irrigation system which is all clogged up.
These observations about conditions are replicated everywhere in Berbice, and Messrs Ramsammy, Neil Kumar and others responsible should be moved as soon as possible from their jobs. Imagine, Editor, Jagan and Kanhai played cricket on that ground in Port Mourant and these people would not even fix it for the youths there, although Cheddi Jagan is re-incarnated in every election cycle by the present PPP leadership for votes they can’t get without calling his name.
At Babu John, where President Cheddi’s memorial is located, garbage and filth surround that sacred ground but no one cares really – only at election time and when they have a service to ‘remember’ Jagan, while forgetting the most important things he fought against, like corruption, squandermania and not attending fully to the people‘s needs.
Editor, taking the Berbicans’ votes for granted is the mantra of the present PPP leadership when they sit in Freedom House calculating votes at election time.
Meanwhile continuing disregard for the problems facing the residents there cause them to keep multiplying; the 63-64 beach area is a disgrace, the black-outs and irrigation problems are nightmares by themselves, the crime situation is out of hand and getting no better, investment to create good jobs and job training is seriously lacking with no real prospects in sight, and basic amenities like licensing (drivers) and passport offices are sorely lacking.
These people in Freedom House obviously didn’t get the message from Berbicans during the last election cycle because I saw, with my own eyes, PPP organizers busing people in to even small meetings because there were slender turn-outs as people obviously were not that much interested. At some meetings, citizens told me that when President Cheddi was alive hundreds would turn out at these small street-corner meetings, whereas in that campaign, sometimes I counted less than a hundred even in places like Albion, and even that was after the buses brought in 40-50 persons .
Editor, while Berbice suffers on, Mr Ramotar keeps shuffling his associates around, like the one recalled from Brazil and given a new placing.
Kellawan Lall is a failure in governance, if I ever saw one. Mr Ramotar recycles the faithful ‘comrades‘ round and round on the government merry-go-round, increasing the bureauracy and the huge payroll the citizens have to bankroll, while Mr Ashni Singh, the Finance Minister, spends $475 million each and every day of the year, even with the budget cuts by the opposition. The Berbicans should wonder how this government could spend US$20 million on the Marriot Hotel and then refuse to fix the electricity mess in Berbice, not to mention the village roads, the irrigation and the playfields, and not spend money on job creation and training – and the list could go on and on.
I campaigned for the PPP in the last election, but after looking hard at what’s happening on the ground in Berbice since that election, I can say to Berbicans, please forgive me as I was wrong to believe the empty promises of the present leaders of the PPP.
Cheddi (Joey) Jagan (Jr)