Residents of the Whim/ Bloomfield Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC), Corentyne complained bitterly about the deplorable condition of the cemetery road at Whim and called for it to be fixed immediately.
That was among some of the concerns residents raised at an inquiry held at the boardroom of the NDC yesterday. They lamented that the street has huge potholes and during the rainy weather it is almost impassable.
The new overseer, Lallchan Rupchand who took over on February 7 said he was aware of the condition of the street but it would cost the NDC a lot of money to fix it.
He said the NDC does not have the resources to do the job and that he has made representation to the Ministry of Local Government to do it.
The inquiry was conducted by Commissioner of Inquiry from the Ministry of Local Government (MOLG), Nandranie Jainarine and assisted by District Development Officer 2, Shawn Coonjah.
Two other inquiries were also being conducted simultaneously: at the Bush Lot/Adventure NDC by Floid Patterson and the No 52/No 74 NDC by Puran Persaud; Senior Regional Development Officer.
A notice published in the newspapers stated that the MOLG had received separate petitions, seeking the dissolution of the NDCs.
The residents had claimed that the NDCs were not functioning. Some present at the Whim NDC said they would be happy if an Interim Management Committee could be set up to serve the people efficiently.
Chairman of the NDC, Hardyal Seepaul noted that residents were not paying their rates and taxes and the council did not have funds to carry out projects.
The residents were in millions of dollars in arrears and the NDC had sent two notices for them to pay. The council is in the process of taking defaulting rate payers to court.
Some of the residents also questioned the role of the ranger and said he was not going out in the area to see what work needs to be done.
They also wanted to know how often the councillors were going out into the villages to meet with the residents to learn of their needs.
The residents were told that the NDC does not have a ranger currently but a general worker and that the council is not functioning and as such the worker alone cannot adequately address the concerns.
Attorney-at-law, Winston Moore who is representing the Auchlyne Estate that is managed by the Church of Scotland acknowledged that the estate owes the NDC over $42M in rates and taxes.
He said he understands that the council has levied on the estate to pay for the residential area where some work was done and noted that $1M was recently paid.
But he questioned what work the NDC had done in the cultivation area to levy for and called on the MOLG to review the situation.
Seepaul responded that they had not done any work because of the very reason that the estate was not paying its arrears.
The residents also lamented that garbage was not being collected and that whenever they inquired they were told that the tractor belonging to the NDC had broken down.
They said too that the drains were clogged with garbage and weed and were not being cleared.
Most of the staff members had left the job while two recently resigned because they had not received their salary for February.
They also questioned what work the NDC had done and Rupchand responded that it had fixed streets in some of the villages including Whim and Bloomfield with crusher run that was purchased for that purpose.
The NDC also installed tubes in two villages. The residents asked for a [wooden] box to be placed across the canal at Wire Dam, Whim so that the water can drain freely.
Rupchan said the canal has 12-inch drainage boxes and residents said they need to carry doors.
Nazir Haniff complained that the council was supposed to fill the playground with a few truckloads of dirt but only a little was thrown and the work was discontinued.
Rice farmers also raised concerns about poor drainage and irrigation while one farmer, Sukhoo said he lost his rice because another blocked the drainage.
There were also complaints of some residents installing small tubes in the drains and that this contributes to flooding.
The NDC is awaiting the approval of the $3M subvention from government to commence more work.