Since the Burnham administration when Mr Gavin Kennard was the Minister of Agriculture, we the residents of south Essequibo were told of the government’s plans to empolder about five thousand, five hundred acres of land for agricultural purposes behind the villages stretching from Supenaam to Adventure, a distance of about nine miles, and although Reid and Malik and Taylor Woodrow both did some drainage and irrigation work along the Essequibo Coast and the areas aforementioned, that promise was not kept.
About a decade or so ago, this project now called the Aurora Land Develop-ment Project was also discussed at all levels in the region and residents living within area, that is Supenaam to Adventure and also those living elsewhere, but who would benefit from this project, were very, very excited about the benefits to be derived from it if it became a reality.
There were a lot of meetings convened by the Regional administration pertaining to this project and a lot of groups formed – about 15 in number, comprising about nine hundred persons. Then some time in 2006 the then President Jagdeo accompanied by Minister Robert Persaud along with senior ministry and regional officials visited the Aurora Primary School and promised that within six months, this area of land would be made available to farmers. The excitement and expectation grew further, then as the years passed the anxiety vanished and the silence about this project grew.
I, as one of the Alliance For Change representatives, on the Regional Demo-cratic Council asked questions about this project at several council meetings, and no answer was given about this long overdue and promised development made by no less a person than the then head of state. Then on April 8, 2011 shortly after Mr Donald Ramotar was selected as the party’s presidential candidate, residents were invited to another meeting at the Aurora Primary School, the purpose of which was to discuss the said project. This time around Minister Robert Persaud told the gathering of more than five hundred persons about the estimated cost of the project which was tagged at $1.3 billion and the amount of acreage to be drained and irrigated and the benefits to be derived. The President at that time, on his arrival also endorsed what had already been said by the Minister.
After Mr Donald Ramotar was introduced to us he also spoke briefly about this much touted project; mention was also made of the Berbice River Bridge, the Skeldon Sugar Factory, the Provi-dence Stadium and inroads the PPP had made in the PNC strongholds. At that time the address sounded like what you would expect to hear at a political meeting.
A promise was however made by Mr Jagdeo that in a matter of two to three weeks evidence of things happening concerning this project would be seen. That meeting then concluded.
Surprisingly when we left that meeting we were none the wiser regarding the criteria to be eligible for a portion of land; the amount of land to be allocated to each successful applicant; the cost per acre; the terms of payment; the terms and conditions under which the land would be acquired.
But after years of promises we are still living in hope and not in despair; we are meekly waiting but we are beginning to murmur. I feel that it is time a statement regarding the status of this project be made.
Archie W Cordis