Linden will be shutting down on Saturday during a planned visit by President Donald Ramotar as residents look to express their “disgust” over the fact that none of the agreements signed in 2012 have been honoured, says Region Ten Chairman Sharma Solomon.
Word has gotten to the Chairman that Ramotar is scheduled to visit the Region to attend the opening of a People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) office and Solomon says they plan to make the most of the visit.
He told Stabroek News yesterday that all of Linden’s important sectors, including the business sector, have signalled their commitment to the undertaking, and added that residents have been asked to come out in support. Solomon says that he, along with the people of Linden will be awaiting Ramotar’s arrival, upon which he will present the President with a letter.
The letter, Solomon explained, will reiterate the region’s “dissatisfaction” and “disgust” at the fact that none of the commitments made by government 17 months ago have been honoured.
In July of 2012, a protest by Lindeners against government’s proposal to raise electricity tariffs turned ugly after policemen responded with force leaving three men dead and sparking a riot. A residents-led blockade then ensued. By the time an agreement was struck between the government and regional officials to bring the unrest to an end the area had been shut down for weeks.
Additionally, several buildings were torched and the cost of living in the region shot up as lanes to and from the capital city were blocked.
Coming out of the agreement were a number of committees, including the Technical Review Committee which was given the mandate to examine the issue of electricity rates. An Economic Committee and a Land Selection Committee were also agreed upon, and the government committed to allowing the region to have its own Television Station.
Seventeen months and several disputes later though, none of the agreements have come to fruition. Government and regional officials are still deadlocked on the appointment of a Chairman to the Technical Committee following the resignation of former Chairman Narvon Persaud, and, just recently, the Economic Committee also saw its Chairman resign.
Unlike the Technical Committee though, the Economic Committee is yet to commence its work as the government has insisted that a replacement Technical Committee chairman be agreed upon before the committee begins its work.
For the work of the Land Selection Committee to get underway its complete mandate has to be assigned and personnel from the Lands and Survey Commission have to be made available. The region has also been told that it cannot receive a broadcasting licence until a court matter challenging former president Bharrat Jagdeo’s distribution of several licences before he left office comes to an end, Solomon shared.
Solomon also said that residents of Linden plan to voice their displeasure on more than just their dissatisfaction about the agreement. Nurses from the Linden Hospital Complex plan to be present to reiterate their dissatisfaction with the 5% wage increase issued by government last year.
Linden’s nurses were among members of the public sector who took strike action after the government said it could not afford to give a larger increase. Despite such action though, it does not seem as though a larger increase is forthcoming. Workers who argue that they were wrongfully dismissed by the Bauxite Company of Guyana Inc. (BCGI) in November 2009 are also expected to be part of gathering which will welcome the president when he visits.