PNCR Leader Robert Corbin last weekend led a team to Region One as part of the party’s outreach programme and he held discussions and meetings with residents in the various communities.
The areas visited were Mabaruma, Kamwatta, The Island – Aruau River, Hobodeia, Hotoquai, Barabina, Sacred Heart, Morawhanna and Bumbury, the party stated in a press release.
In the team on this exercise were Dr. George Norton, MP and member of the Central Executive Committee, Desmond Fernandes, MP, Christopher Jones, Chairman (ag) of the Guyana Youth and Student Movement (GYSM) and Eileen Fernandes.
According to the PNCR, the main complaint of the residents in the communities was the lack of employment for youths and adults. Most of the young people cannot find jobs after graduating from high school and political discrimination was the reason for some young people not being able to obtain employment, the party said. Residents also complained that they had not received their pension books although Minister of Human Services Priya Manickchand had said in Parliament that the books had been sent out to all the regions, the release added.
It noted too that lack of birth certificates was a major concern for the residents of the communities. The residents at Hotoquai said that money had been paid to the CEO of the region in order to obtain birth certificates but to date they have not been able to acquire these birth certificates, although the relevant information had been sent through the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs and the regional authorities.
The lack of birth certificates, the release noted, also affects the residents in terms of their ability to register their children for school and to register for ID cards. A related question, the release added, is the need for school uniforms because when uniforms are not available the children are unable to attend school. The residents said that there is no indication that the government intends to find a solution to the problems affecting them, the PNCR said.
Meanwhile, agriculture is stagnating in the region and quite a few of the residents do not have the means to bring their produce to the market at Kumaka and Mabaruma, the PNCR said.
According to the party, the residents responded to the Grow More Food
campaign but discovered that there is no market for their peanuts and farming produce and they are forced to sell to “hustlers” at the Mabaruma stelling at lower prices.
In the past, the release stated, they were able to sell their produce to the Guyana Marketing Corporation (GMC) but this is no longer the case.
Flooding has also taken a toll on the agricultural production in some of the communities in the region, the PNCR said, adding that the residents at The Island – Aruau had their crops destroyed by the recent floods but no minister or government official has visited the area. Moreover, the residents have expressed their concern that there is no agricultural officer attached to the community.
The PNCR said further that the spiralling cost of living has also hit these hinterland communities and residents were dissatisfied that the prices of foodstuff were rising and they were finding it difficult to cope with this situation.
The quality of life in these communities, the PNCR stated, was not only bedevilled by the rising cost of living but also in communities such as Barabina, Bumbury and Morawhanna, it is adversely affected by poor drainage and the lack of electricity.
According to the party, transportation was also cause for complaint and concern and the community of The Island – Aruau, for example, was in dire need of an outboard engine as the one they originally possessed was reclaimed.
The residents, the release said, also indicated that transportation was needed for school children and in the case of Sacred Heart it was required to take patients to the hospital at Mabaruma. The roads in some of the villages were in very poor condition and in the particular case of Barabina heavy rainfall had destroyed the main road. The residents said that they were informed by REO Ishwar Dass that the sum of $4M was released to do the road but to date only a part of it has been completed. Money was also released to tar the road but so far this has not been done, the release added.
Meanwhile, the issue of health also surfaced in the discussion with the PNCR Leader and his team. At Kamwatta, the residents said that the new hospital needs to be completed at Mabaruma since patients have to travel all the way to Georgetown for medical attention. Residents at Hobodeia pointed out that because of the lack of equipment only minor health issues could be dealt with while the health center in this community needs urgent repairs. A radio set is also badly needed to communicate with other health officials in the region.
The PNCR team, the release noted, came away with the distinct impression that there had been inadequate levels of development in most of the communities and at Hobodeia, for example, the residents believe that the condition of their community has remained essentially the same since 1992. They believe that they can promote development by themselves if they are given a plan and the resources to do so, the release stated.
The main objective of the outreach is to try and find out the problems affecting residents in these communities. During the visits to each community, Dr. Norton who is an ophthalmologist took the opportunity to examine senior citizens.