Severe erosion of a well meant to service residents in Paramakatoi has made the task of accessing potable water onerous.
According to Region Eight Chairman and AFC MP, Mark Crawford the conditions are so distressing that schoolchildren are made to fetch a five-gallon bottle of water over 1500 feet to the school dormitory.
He said that the children struggle with the task and the way in which the pipe is located it is very muddy and slippery.
ridiculous that it is kids having to fetch the water,” Crawford told Stabroek News.
He said that “many of them can’t even heist the bottles, the bottles weigh the same as them.”
Stabroek News understands that the process of filling the five-gallon bottles is tedious as the flow of water is very slow. Crawford said “the kids are forced to spend time waiting on the trickle of water and then carrying the heavy bottles to flush toilets, it is unacceptable.”
He said that there are provisions in place for when things start to go wrong which negatively impacts the community and children eventually are required to pick up the slack which cuts into their learning time.
The Alliance for Change is calling on the government to immediately fix the well, which had been damaged since the beginning of the year. In a statement the AFC stated that “it is shameful that the village of Paramakatoi cannot have an operable well. If this is a demonstration of the government’s level of commitment to the Amerindian People, it leaves much to be desired.”
The AFC is claiming that the village is being sidelined by the government due to the election results of the last general elections which gave the opposition the majority in the region.
Meanwhile, Chief Executive Officer of Guyana Water Incorporat-ed, Shaik Baksh is currently in the region to assess the situation, according to GWI’s Corporate Secretary Nigel Niles.
Niles told Stabroek News that the dry weather has had a negative impact on many wells and reservoirs across the country. He noted that when the GWI team returned to Georgetown a plan on how to address the rehabilitation would be compiled.
The damaged well has impacted the day-to-day existence of residents and has frustrated many because it has taken five months for the government to actually address the issue although Crawford had originally raised his concerns with GWI in March.
The area does suffer from accessibility issues, however last week representatives from GWI visited the vicinity, but nothing was physically done to address the erosion of the reservoir.
Critics have noted that this is not the first situation where children in far-flung areas have been forced into physical labour that goes beyond the idea of chores. Critics say it showcases a lack of planning and developmental initiative at various ministerial levels, most notably the ministry of local government.
When Stabroek News made attempts to contact Minister in the Ministry of Local Government Norman Whittaker, this publication was told that he was in meeting, several attempts later to reach Whittaker were unsuccessful.
Last year, children at Kato Primary School were enlisted to fetch logs because the kitchen was short on firewood.