-could impact on fish festival
Extensive flooding and ethnic relations issues in the Rockstone community could put a damper on this year’s annual fish festival, according to residents who are calling for the intervention of President Bharrat Jagdeo and the Ethnic Relations Com-mission.
These issues were brought to the fore by community councillor of Rockstone, Faye Allicock at Friday’s community meeting held in Linden with President Jagdeo and cabinet members.
The well-known councillor said that the rainy season had brought on severe hardships for residents and there has been no assistance forthcoming so far from the regional or national authorities.
The community of just over 200 residents sits along the Essequibo River in Region 10 and their main economic activities are fishing and logging. According to Allicock both economic activities are dormant because of the extensive high tides.
“Right now we are flooded, anyone can come in there now and they can see it. We complained to NCN before, NCN came in but nothing was done, we received no relief at all where it’s concerned about this flooding.”
Fallen trees which caused the creeks to be clogged were identified as the main cause for the flooding.
Compounded by the high waters of the Essequibo, one of the main bridges, the Parmacushi Bridge, was almost impassable on Friday morning and residents were expecting that upon their return in the evening the heavy rains would have worsened the situation.
The central area in the community has also been affected to the extent that the elevated community lodge is serving as a dock with boats and tugs.
Persons are also forced to use boats to cross one of the main roads due to the height of the water covering that road.
Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Manniram Prashad visited the area recently where the plight of residents was witnessed firsthand, Allicock noted. “Farms are flooded, Manniram them came in about two or three weeks ago and they saw some of the conditions that we are going though,” Allicock said.
Meanwhile, logging activities in the area are at a standstill, causing severe hardships on families.
Allicock said that some families are finding it difficult to provide one meal for their families because their farms were destroyed by the floodwaters and the men cannot do their usual logging activities.
She said that most men from the community were forced to leave their families behind and venture farther into the interior job hunting.
“Some families haven’t seen or heard, even get a `lil money, from some of their husbands for almost three week, ” she said, and so many children are going hungry.
Touching on the issue of ethnic relations, the community councillor said that recently residents have been calling for the intervention of the Ethnic Relations Com-mission which has promised to conduct a consultation tomorrow.
It was alleged that recently there was an incident at the school where one child slapped another for using a racial slur.
Residents of the riverain community are also calling for improved education facilities for their children.
At the end of this academic school year there were only three teachers, including the head teacher who has responsibility for teaching students from nursery to grade six.
“Our children performed miserable, simply because of the lack of teachers and because most of them attended school because they had no food,” Allicock told Stabroek News in a follow-up interview.
The unfurnished school house was identified as a root problem deterring teachers from going to the area.
The upper flat of the building where the head teacher is housed has two chairs and a coffee table as its only furnishings.
Allicock recommended that the lower flat of the head teacher’s home should be completed and furnished to accommodate another teacher.
The appointment of additional teachers was seen as necessary because it costs a total of $8,000 for one person to make a return trip to Rockstone so children cannot afford to travel to Linden to access better educational facilities, Allicock pointed out.