The expansion of commerce in the Diamond/Grove area

Interviews and photos by Sara Bharrat

Given the recent emergence of businesses in the Diamond/Grove area, including the recently opened Bounty Supermarket and Guyoil gas station and the promise of two additional banks, Stabroek News asked Diamond/Grove/Craig/Kaneville residents how they have benefited and whether this would reduce the number of trips they made to Georgetown.

Hardat Satrohan, businessman
– ‘I doubt whether the recent expansion of the commercial sector in this area will result in fewer trips to Georgetown for me. The bank is one service I may be using, and it’s nice to have a gas station closer to home. However, I make one trip to Georgetown every week. I shop for goods whose sAdd an Imageuppliers are based in Georgetown. Even if I could have these goods delivered to me I would still need to visit the city for tax purposes. Now having a GRA office in the Grove/Diamond area is a good idea. The traffic in Georgetown is something I have never gotten used to but no matter how developed the Grove/Diamond area becomes we still will go to the city if only out of habit.’

Irene Rampher, self-employed – ‘I’ve already used the new gas station at Diamond. It is closer to home and saves time. Before I would have had to travel several miles to Providence before I could get access to a gas station. I also use the Diamond Diagnostic Centre for my health needs and would only go to Georgetown for an emergency. Right now, I travel to Georgetown twice a week to do shopping. What we really need here is a market. We do have a range of small stores and now a supermarket in Grove, but there are still some things which we can only get in the city. Probably in another few years I will be able to reduce the number of trips I make to Georgetown.’

Gowkaran Sukhdeo, farmer – ‘Having these services so close to where I live definitely has a lot of benefits for me. The main [one] is that I don’t have to travel all the way to the city to get certain things. But as a farmer there are still some things that I need which I can’t find here and am forced to use time and money to travel to Georgetown, which is the closest place where I can get them. In the Diamond to Soesdyke area there are a lot of farmers, and because of this there is naturally a demand for agricultural materials. When I want certain types of fertilizers for my crops I have to travel all the way to Kitty, Georgetown to get it. I live only about 9 miles from Georgetown so the travelling isn’t so hard on me, but people who are coming all the way from Soesdyke and Timehri feel it more than I do. And more services from the private sector are not the only thing we need here. We also need improved public sector services as well. For the longest while we have been having problems with the service at the Good Success/ Caledonia Neighbourhood Demo-cratic Council.’

Nickecia Higgins, private sector employee –
‘I used to live in Agri-cola which is closer to Georgetown, so I saw the city often. But now that I live in the Grove/Craig area I go to Georgetown every Saturday to do shopping and conduct other transactions. The businesses that have emerged in the Diamond/Grove area have definitely benefited many people. I shop at some of the stores and it helps a lot that I don’t have to travel all the way to Georgetown. However, there are still many things which I need that I need to go to the city for. We need some fast food restaurants in the area and more sophisticated entertainment spots. These are the two things which also increase my trips to Georgetown. If we can get those here then I’d say the location will finally be ready for township.’

Ramnarine, farmer – ‘I don’t benefit from all these new places that have been erected in the Diamond/Grove area. I go to Georgetown once a month to buy seeds and other materials I need for my farming. I shop for foodstuff and other things for my family right in the area. I don’t use the banks, but if I decide to then I am more comfortable with them being closer to home. What I would like is a store dedicated strictly to agricultural supplies. This would definitely benefit me and I will no longer have to travel to Georgetown for anything.’

Ama Joseph, teacher – ‘Even though there are these new businesses here I still make my normal two trips a month to Georgetown. I go to the city mostly for shopping and to deal with my banking needs. Maybe after the other two banks are finished with their construction at Diamond it will reduce my city trips to just one a month. I do shop at the supermarket in Grove as opposed to my community shops here in Kaneville, because they offer a wider range of goods and products. I think the area is ready for township because the population has greatly increased, and at the rate goods and services are becoming available there will soon be no need to visit Georgetown unless we’re visiting or seeking  a change of entertainment.’

Sarojanie Vasquez, housewife – ‘I visit Georgetown weekly to get anything that I may want or need. Sometimes I shop at some in the Diamond/Grove area, but I still don’t find everything I need there. When I need certain kitchen appliances I have to find my way to Georgetown. One thing that I definitely benefit from is the Diamond Diagnostic Centre. It is closer to home and I have three children so there is no telling when an emergency will crop up. Another positive thing too is that over the last few years several gyms have opened. I remember not so long ago gyms were mostly in the cities. I don’t consider anywhere up to Craig as rural areas; I think of it mostly as outskirts of the city.’

Salim Gafoor, carpenter – ‘I don’t use banks. I don’t use the gas station. So no, I won’t directly benefit from these available services. But I know that it has made in a difference in the lives of many people. My wife does the shopping and she is relieved that she can do it all in the Diamond/Grove area. Besides it is easier on her because it cuts down the amount of money she spends on travelling to Georgetown. My trips to Georgetown are mostly work related, [and] the availability of goods and services will not affect them. My family also uses the hospital at Diamond and it provides well for our health care needs.’

Michael Latchana, porter –
‘My wife does all the shopping and banking and that kind of thing. Before she used to go to Georgetown to get these things done, but now she does them right here on the East Bank. I am a porter for a bush truck and it is my job that really takes me to Georgetown. If it was not for that then I would have no need to go to the city. I feel at ease that my wife can handle our banking transactions at the bank in Grove and I know customers of the other banks being constructed at Diamond will be able to relate to this feeling. It is much more crowded in Georgetown and the possibility of her getting robbed is higher. Here in the country I know she can feel more secure dealing with monetary transactions.’

Nazim Gafoor, solid waste management supervisor –
‘I work in the city so whether or not I have all the goods and services where I live, I will still have to travel to Georgetown. In my field, there is no possibility of me finding a job on the East Bank. Because I work in Georgetown it is easier for me to handle all my shopping and banking needs right there. I have noticed though that my friends and relatives are making less and less trips to Georgetown. And East Bank Demerara people will not be the only people who will benefit from these services. People from the West Bank of Demerara travel over to Grove by boat and they too enjoy the benefits of these services. It is faster for West Demerara residents living in Patentia and Sisters Village to use the services in Grove as opposed to travelling to Vreed-en-Hoop.’

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