Described as Guyana’s “cleanest town” by residents, the sprawling township of Anna Regina on the Essequibo Coast is being promoted by its residents as a “leading” example to other townships across the country.
Anna Regina, which is home to the administrative office of Region Two (Pomeroon/Supenaam) got its name in the 18th century after the daughters of a Dutch plantation owner who according to local tradition perished by drowning close to the high bridge which remains a landmark. It is also the site of the monument to Damon, who was hanged in 1834, for his part in the action taken by some of the enslaved on the Essequibo Coast that year. The statue was sculpted by Ivor Thom and cast locally.
The community was established as a town in the year 1970 and has been advancing in terms of infrastructural development while the local authority has been working to maintain the ‘clean and bright look,’ which characterizes the community.
“We want to make this town a role model,” said Town Clerk Ganga Persaud who told Stabroek News during a recent visit to the area that the community has seen considerable development within the past decade, including the establishment of several commercial banks, supermarkets, hotels and nightspots.
He noted that Anna Regina is the most populated community on the Essequibo Coast and is an important link between the lower and upper Essequibo Coast areas.
The community, he noted, hosts a number of cultural activities during the year, including the famous Essequibo Night, which is held annually at the community centre ground. The event is held in order to promote the culture and economic activities of Anna Regina
Market vendor Maxwell Bridgemohan, who has been living in the area for most of his life, noted that the community is one of the “most quiet places I know in my years of travelling as a police officer.” He explained that he has been vending at the market since 1991, soon after he retired from the police force where he served as special constable from the 1970s up until his retirement.
“Well its nice here, for any first time visitor you would feel at home; we have the hotels, police station, the fire station and a few banks, so I would say that it is one of the fastest developing places in Guyana,” Bridgemohan noted.
He said that he plies his trade every day in the market area selling fruit, mainly mangoes, bananas, oranges and watermelons, among others. Bridgemohan is one of a few dozen farmers who live at Anna Regina and while most are engaged in rice farming, he is one of a “special” group who also cultivate cash crops and fruit.
“Most of the fruits I sell here are what I grow, so it’s a whole process involved in me reaching out here at my stand to sell to the public,” Bridgemohan said.
He said too that there is a marked difference “these days when compared to the good old days when things use to be much cheaper to source.” He noted that at present merchandise has an added cost attached, with transportation being a major factor in the cost of items being sourced by vendors.
Early in the mornings at Anna Regina vehicles pass along the main public road, mostly going to or from Charity and Supenaam, the Essequibo Coast’s busiest ports.
“The thing about this place here is that it’s quiet; people are simple about the way they do things and it’s a connection between the more busy areas on the coast,” a shop owner commented.
He said that most people travelling through the community are afforded the opportunity of stopping at Anna Regina to “bite on something or to get something to drink or even shop vegetables.”
Close to the market area, a number of buses and hire cars would line up and wait for passengers to travel to Charity, Supenaam and the Lake Mainstay area, and according to Carmellita Daniels, a resident of St Denny’s Mission, a small Amerindian community located aback of Anna Regina, the township is ‘important to us in there because we come here to get foodstuff, cooking utensils, and to do general shopping.” St Denny’s Mission is located some 5 miles south of Anna Regina, close to the Tapakuma Lake.
She said that she would travel to the township at
various times during the week to buy goods, do bank transactions at one of the four commercial banks and also to meet and greet friends and family who are travelling though the area.
At the Anna Regina market, shoppers were busy comparing the pricea of items during this newspaper’s visit, and according to the vendors there, the market is usually busy on Friday, the official market day. Vendors would travel from various areas along the Essequibo Coast and as far as Parika on the East Bank of the Essequibo River, to vend at the community.
The community is home to more than 5 gas stations, the CV Nunes Primary School, which produced top performers at this year’s National Grade Six Examinations, a secondary school and a technical institute.
According to the Town Clerk, the municipality is making representations to the authorities to have a hospital complex erected at Anna Regina since he noted that one has to travel to Charity or to the Suddie Hospital in order to seek medical attention for any ailment. He said too that there are plans to “light up” the area and street lights will soon be a feature in the township.
Vendors noted that the community was in need of a public facility ,more so a refurbished one , since the existing facility located east of the market area was defunct and ,’generally in a bad state’ an apple vendor noted .The town clerk noted too that the area was in need of more jobs and he said that the Private Sector Commission (PSC) and other relevant bodies should “step in,” adding that rice-farming and cattle-rearing were among the major economic areas which needed to be explored since viable potential exists in those fields.
Anna Regina has a population of more than 12,000 persons but that number may have increased from the time the census was done, the Town Clerk said. The community is accessible by road, water and by air as the local airlines have established scheduled flights to Hampton Court on the Essequibo Coast.