Rupununi children should not be transported by tractor

Dear Editor,

Lethem was today transformed by youthful ebullience and colour as the Mashramani Children’s parade went through the community. Children from Lethem and St Ignatius and also far flung communities such as Kumu, Nappi, etc, braved the scorching sun to celebrate our Rebublic Anniversary.  It was definitely an enjoyable sight which was much appreciated by both residents of Lethem and neighbouring Brazil.

However, the beauty of the day was tarnished by the mode of transportation which some of the children from the far flung areas were using. The most common transportation for these kids was the John Deere tractors which were given to Amerindian communities by the government.

The tractors were jammed with kids, who were jollying about as normal kids do, oblivious to the dangers of such mode of transportation. A little error by any child looked like it would have tragic consequences.

Less than a week ago someone fell off a tractor and died. This death has added to an alarming number of recent deaths from tractor accidents, which is probably due to the increase of tractors in the communities.

Despite the warning bells ringing loudly, the Regional Administration and other officials continue to use tractors as the main form of transportation for residents of the outlying communities. App-arently the main reason is that it is the cheapest form of transportation hence its common use.

But was this the intention of the government when it gave tractors to these communities – to transport the people in such risky manner?  One understands the situation in Amerindian Villages where the residents are too poor to afford any other form of transport. At least they are adults and make the decision to travel with full knowledge of the risks involved. But when it comes to our children being exposed to high risk by travelling in this dangerous, uncomfortable mode of transportation, then we need to put our foot down and say that the risk is too high and not allow our kids to travel like this.

It is the mandatory responsibility of the Ministry of Education and the Regional Administration to ensure that our children perform in the safest possible environment, especially when it involves them being transported far from their home along rough trails. Once sincerely hopes that the necessary authorities read this letter and make changes in the transportation of our children. Our kids depend on us to ensure their safety. If we allow this form of transportation to continue then we would be failing the children and ultimately there will be a very high price to pay.

We have to stop using cost as an excuse for not providing acceptable service to our people. Let us ensure that our Mashramani celebrations are done in the correct manner. We could start by ensuring that our people, especially the children, be treated with dignity and travel in some modicum of safety and comfort.

Yours faithfully,
E  Fredericks

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