On Wednesday August 17, 2011, the Upper Corentyne Chamber of Commerce Industry (UCCCI) received a grant of $28 000 from USAID to curb underage sexual activity with a portion of it to be used on the development of No 63 beach. All chamber members were invited and present at this ceremony except for myself, even though I am a member of this chamber and a resident of No 63 beach. How did I get to know of this? Via Guyana Times of August 18 and an executive member of this chamber who was nice enough to notify me. The big question here is why wasn’t I invited to that important meeting when this project concerns my residency? I want back my $12 000 from this chamber since they do not want me involved in beach affairs and they have never done anything for me while being a member of this organization.
Another question is, when is the beach project going to start? This project lacks transparency. Some members even told me that they don’t even know what the project is about, but although I was getting bad vibes from the chamber, I said, you know what, let them take my ideas and improve the beach; I don’t want anyone to say that I stopped something good from happening in my society.
Another matter which is not clear is, how come residents in 63 and 64 villages are unaware of this project? People in the area have right to know. Another ridiculous thing is that it is the duty of the Chamber of Commerce to solve issues affecting businesses but instead they criticize my business. Why doesn’t the chamber President take care of real issues affecting the beach like stray cattle roaming the beach? The cows have damaged the sandbanks, meaning there is no sea defence. Cows on the beach are an eyesore if you want to develop tourism. The cattle stampede and disturb people relaxing on the beach, and their manure and stench turn off tourists. Why doesn’t he come and take a look at the high spring tide situation? The beach is being demolished and the Corentyne River is making pathways to meet the road already.
I attended most of the USAID workshops held via this chamber and the funny thing is in each class we were taught about cooperating with each other and indulging in teamwork. A person who was working with this project in order to get it funded said they couldn’t do anything about the situation when I reported that the chamber group didn’t want me involved. Myself and others see the chamber as a money-making organization. A member of the Central Chamber of Commerce was bragging to me the other day that their chamber made $7M on the last Berbice Expo, which was a mess and a rip-off with patrons walking through mud. That’s a lot of money. I wonder how they’re going to spend that?
I have been living 12 years on the beach and am being treated as an outcast. I pioneered with the one and only true tourism structure there, a powerful resort called ‘Sunsplash‘ for locals and foreigners. How could I encourage my other overseas friends to come and invest in Guyana if I see mistreatment everywhere? I know certain people want to see me fail and they are trying their best to see me sell out my business and go back to Canada, but I am standing my ground. I awaken at the crack of dawn, first to venture out onto the beach, do research, and witness the galaxy of stars and the pale moonlight, and persons want to kick me out of my own territory that I have transport for. The beach belongs to everyone and the public should be involved in the project and the clean-ups too.
Garbage on the beach is being picked up by the current workers and piled behind the last pavilion, near the head of the 62 Middle-walk Street, as well as left and right of my resort, which is an eyesore. The current beach chairman is supposed to send a dumptruck to pick up the garbage and dispose of it at the No 0 dumpsite.
The chamber seems bothered about my articles, but writing is my gift and profession and I have a right to freedom of expression.
Ebony Narpatty Brijbassi