By Jeff Trotman
Contrary to the announcement by the leadership of the Linden IMC that the Kara Kara toll point would be opened on October 28th in defiance of an order by Local Government Minis-ter, Norman Whittaker, the facility remains closed and by last Friday the municipality’s officials seemed unsure of the way forward.
The IMC had been adamant that the booth would be reopened to provide revenue to enable the council to pay workers the minimum wage introduced in the middle of this year. However, the booth remains closed and it has since been vandalized.
“They start vandalizing the place,” the Linden IMC Vice Chairman, Eric Harry bemoaned on Friday. “Imagine they’ve removed the waste pipe from the toilet,” he said.
Noting that the louvre windows of the booth are protected by steel grills, Harry expressed concern that the booth would be further vandalized because “it is in an isolated location and there is no guard there”.
On Friday, Harry’s position was diametrically different to the defiant stance he portrayed a few weeks earlier in keeping with the stated position of the Linden IMC Chairman Orrin Gordon. “I done,” Harry whispered when asked by Stabroek News what was his position going forward with the issue.
“The Minister of Local Government sent a letter stating that any town council employee, who works at the booth will be dismissed immediately and anybody that we employ to work in the booth would be criminally charged with extortion.” Harry further stated: “The minister write it in black and white.”
Harry added that an official of the Guyana Labour Union, Carvil Duncan, met with the municipal workers on Tuesday and told them not to work at the booth because they could be criminally charged by the police.
Harry further stated that Duncan told the workers that once they are paid they should not worry. According to him, Duncan also told the workers that the union is monitoring the situation and if they are not paid by the stipulated time this month, the union would take industrial action.
“I done,” Harry said. “Is lock up. Me ain’t get time with that no more,” Harry said.
Meanwhile, Regional Chairman of Region Ten, Sharma Solomon, in a telephone conversation with Stabroek News on Friday evening, said the manner in which the Linden IMC has dealt with the matter does not reflect weak leadership at the Regional level but, rather, a lack of character at the level of the municipal leaders.
Stressing that the matter comes under the direct purview of the municipality, the Regional Chairman said that was why when the RDC was called in to discuss the issue, he made it clear that the RDC would support the municipality in whatever position it takes once the municipality sent a written request for support in time for him to raise the issue during his Chairman’s Report at the continuation of the October statutory meeting on Wednesday October 30th.
Solomon recalled that the toll booth was closed by the Town Clerk, Joneller Bowen on direction from Minister Whittaker while he and the Linden IMC Chairman, Gordon, were on a ten-day visit to China. According to him, Regional Vice Chairman, Byron Lewis, gave the Linden IMC Vice Chairman and IMC Councillor Charles Sampson sound advice by telling them to seek an injunction to block the Minister from closing the toll point and let the matter be decided by the court but the two men chose to spearhead a strategy of direct confrontation that they were ill-equipped to sustain.
Reiterating that the matter falls under the jurisdiction of the Linden Town Council, Solomon said that while the RDC is monitoring the situation, it would only intervene if the rights of Region Ten residents are affected.