Matthew’s Ridge and Arakaka residents are opposed to the recently-installed Interim Management Committee (IMC) at the Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) in Region One, saying that it was set up without consultation with the two communities.
The Local Government Ministry recently installed the body to head the affairs of the NDC and according to a report signed by Commissioner of Inquiry, Puran Persaud, the body was dissolved until the holding of Local Government Elections due to the depletion of the council’s membership and irregular conduct of statutory meetings, among other issues.
The ministry was also provided with a petition which was signed by 20 persons from the community of Port Kaituma.
APNU regional representative Richard Alleyne however told Stabroek News recently that the IMC was hurriedly put in place by the government without the councillors from Arakaka and Matthew’s Ridge being informed.
He said that last weekend he travelled back to the community where he lives and was passing through the area when someone told him that a meeting was being held at the community and the Local Government officials were officiating.
He said that he travelled to the area and met Local Government Minister Ganga Persaud who stated that he could not entertain questions which were irrelevant when he (Alleyne) attempted to query the reasons for the meeting.
Alleyne said that the council was dissolved at the meeting while former chairman of the NDC, Burchell Flatts as well as other members of the NDC were out of the area. He said that no one from the council was present at the meeting, “other than the PPP representatives who are now part of the IMC.”
A petition which was used as a yardstick to justify the reasons for the IMC was signed by persons who were called up by the government representatives in the region, Alleyne noted.
He said that the current IMC is filled with PPP affiliates from the region, including a security guard who now collects monies on behalf of the council. He added that there were a number of burning issues which needed attention in the region, including the misappropriation of funds to renovate roadways in the area as well as the “the authorities giving out lands to persons connected with the government.”
He recalled that the NDC had its difficulties for a number of years, including the lack of funds since the regional authorities were advised not to provide any funds to the body.
He said that between 1994 and 1996 the body was funded mainly through self-serving initiatives, and he reiterated that it was the region which had been stifling the existence of the NDC.
A number of persons in the area have since voiced concern over the existence of the IMC and a member of the business community at Matthew’s Ridge charged last week that the IMC is being used as a “political ploy in favour of the government.” He said that at the moment persons employed by the regional authorities are being warned “that people are talking to the media and they could end up without jobs.”
He said that the government officials have been travelling to the region, “and making all sorts of promises and telling us what they want to do but is years now and nothing ain’t happening.”
He said also that many in the region are viewing the recent development as “an insult to Region One people because it will push corruption and that to me nobody know bout it (IMC) till we read it in the press.”
According to the petition, which was seen by this newspaper, the residents of the area declared their dissatisfaction with the manner in which the business of the body was being conducted, partly due to the loss of many of the elected members, due mainly to migration, death, lack of interest and vacated seats.
According to the document, the communities in the sub-region are experiencing “serious problems due to the ensuing lack of proper management, lack of interest and neglect.”
The residents stated that they hold the council as being ultimately responsible for the difficulties now facing the area.
They said that vital works are needed in the area while there is a lack of information pertaining to decisions taken in the name of the community.
“We need to question expenditures and revenues. We cite instances of consistent disinterest by those supposedly in authority,” the residents noted.
They added: “In our view what now exists as a council is a vast difference from what existed in 1994 when the council was elected.” A call was made for the council to be dissolved by the authorities in keeping with the Local Government Act.
The Local Government Ministry recently convened a similar hearing for the Bartica NDC but residents who gathered soundly rebuffed the notion that an IMC should be set up.