Residents of Kwakwani have agreed that the solution to most of their problems can be realized through Local Government Reform and in that light they held their first Town Hall meeting with officials of the 7th council of the Regional Democratic Council of Region 10.
Led by Regional Chairman Kuice Sharma Solomon the team comprising Regional Vice-Chairman Byron Lewis, Councillors Charles Sampson and Leslie Gonsalves, Members of Parliament Vanessa Kissoon and Renis Morian travelled to the Berbice River community to listen to issues of concern to residents and to formulate strategies that could bring about desirable change. The team was joined in Kwakwani by Senior Superintendent of Police Michael Sutton.
Among the issues brought to the floor was the non-functioning of the Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC). Residents also noted that several areas of development within the community had been dormant because NDC members were not dedicated.
According to information presented, the NDC has been non-functional since 1992. Residents said this has resulted in the Regional Administration of Region 10 taking up the responsibility of expending the subventions for the community.
“Our subventions don’t come to us, we don’t see it at all. We does know it deh when de region start throwing some stuff here and there… they don’t even consult with residents of this community,” said one resident.
This led residents to call for the installation of an interim management committee.
However, Solomon contended that “having an IMC installed now would not be the wisest thing to do right now because the political parties would put who they want in those positions and it would not mean that they would be the best people who would be committed to addressing your issues as a community.”
Solomon spent time explaining to residents the benefits of having local government reform and subsequently local government elections.
The idea was welcomed with loud rounds of applause as residents agreed that it was the best way forward.
Meanwhile, the issue of political partisanship at the Kwakwani Utility Incorporated (KUI) was raised by residents. According to a resident, the KUI office was abused by being utilized as the headquarters for political meetings by the PPP/C.
It was also alleged that the only certified electrician employed by the KUI did not get his contract renewed.
The residents also charged that 95% of the existing staff at the facility are directly related as relatives and the certified electrician was the only person whose contract was not renewed.
The state of the internal roads was another major concern that residents highlighted. They pointed out that for the amount of money allotted for road rehabilitation the community roads should have been in much better condition.
Another burning issue was the monopoly and poor service by the state-owned television station. The issue of stray cattle disturbing farming activities was also raised and Sutton was asked to intervene in this regard.
In addition, residents called for the provision of a proper ambulance, improved health care delivery, the refurbishing of the airstrip, incentives for teachers as in other riverain communities, and assistance for developing farming activities.
Solomon assured the Kwakwani residents that under the new dispensation of the new structure and the revamped RDC, they can be assured that they would be treated no differently than residents in Linden and other areas of the region.
He insisted that councillors of the 7th RDC who reside in Kwakwani must be visible and serve as they were duly elected to.
“Whatever projects for which contracts are awarded, we would ensure that the councillors in this area have a copy of the scope of work and they are to come and
have meetings with you to let you know exactly what is expected of the contractors,” he said.
He also stated that with every contract awarded to any community in Region 10, including Kwakwani, the council will require that 15% of the workers must be women resident in the community.
In the meantime, Morian promised residents to work with them on initiatives for the development of the agriculture sector.