Photos by Anjuli Persaud
The residents of Waiakabra, Linden/Soesdyke Highway are calling on the relevant authorities to regularize the former squatting area so that they can access the basic necessities for survival, which are potable water, electricity and a proper road.
According to Village Chairman Anita Nunes, for the past ten years she has been lobbying for better roads and an improved standard of living so that the community can be better developed and residents can access the basic necessities to ensure that they are productive members of society.
The village is home to approximately 58 families and houses about 400 people; the main activity in the village is collecting scrap metal from the former Ideal Factory in the area which used to manufacture household appliances such as stoves and fridges.
According to one resident, Theresa Veeran, her children traverse the deplorable road every day to get to school and as such their uniforms are always messed up by the sand on the road.
The residents said they have made several pleas to the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs to have the area regularized so that they can get water and electricity. They said they were told that the ministry had already paid Guyana Lands and Survey Commission to have the area surveyed and the land titled, so they have been waiting.
Veeran went on to question “Don’t we deserve better?”
She said she wants no more promises but wants to see action.
She urged the government to “be fair to the people that put you in office”.
She stressed that the community has no potable water system and the residents have to depend on the rain to get drinking water. She added that the residents can only access water from a spring that is owned by member of the Alliance For Change (AFC) Gerhard Ramsaroop, but he has recently opened a sand pit there and it is making it difficult for them to access the water since it becomes muddy at times.
Nunes said her people should not be subjected to that but she cannot blame Ramsaroop because he owns the spring and it is his right to do as he pleases with it. She said she was thankful that he was noble enough to allow them to use it for so long, but it is the government which should supply them with potable water.
She said that prior to the November 2011 general elections they were promised water tanks by the government.
Nunes said, “I feel that our intelligence and integrity have been insulted as Amerindian people and we are this way because we are Amerindians.”
Ramsaroop said he has pledged his service to the community by ensuring the spring is maintained. He added that in addition to maintaining the spring he had promised loam for the road and to level some areas of the community. That process has already begun.
Ramsaroop added that earlier this year he had spoken to Minister of Amerindian Affairs Pauline Sukhai to intervene on the community’s behalf and have the area regularized, but she said that they were planning to move the residents to another location. He added that she said residents refused to move and that is when he suggested that she put mechanisms in place to have them access potable water from a well owned by the rundown Ideal Factory but to date nothing has been done.
Other residents all said that they want the area to be regularized so that they can access the basic amenities like the rest of the country.