I read a report in Sunday Stabroek (April 6) captioned ‘Region 9 Deep South teachers, public servants upset salaries to be paid into Lethem bank.’
Editor, this government seemingly sits down and comes up with more ways to punish the masses. The new policy of this government is to have all public payments be done through established financial institutions, the commercial banks in this instance.
While I have no qualms about the policy, it ought not to be, cannot be implemented across the board. What exists on the coast does not necessarily exist in the hinterland. Lethem now has two commercial banks in GBTI and Republic Bank. Is that justification enough to implement that policy here? Let us examine some irrefutable facts.
The Rupununi is the largest administrative region in Guyana covering some 23,000 square miles. It is larger than most Caribbean countries. We have the furthest community to the north in Fairs View (this community is in Region 8 but is administered by Region 9 for logistical purposes), which is 220 km from Lethem; we have Yarong Paru being the furthest community in the South Pakaraimas being 152 km away from Lethem, as well as many communities in between. The distances in the Deep South have already been highlighted.
The terrain in most cases is unforgiving. Even though the government is seen building roads, in most of these areas we know their record in this regard. The roads are like biscuits – they crumble at the first taste of the rains, which are very intense when they come.
This will make many areas inaccessible to vehicles that are not four-wheel drive.
Another factor is the cost of transportation. Not all of the areas are serviced by regular transportation. To hire a vehicle, let’s say from Aishalton to Lethem, one will have to find $80,000. I was told that there is now a regular bus service to the village, but believe you me, that venture is not sustainable. Let us see what the rains bring. In the meantime what happens to Achiwib, Karudarnaua, Awarewanau, Mururanau, Shea, Rupunau, Sand Creek and others in the south.
In the north we have villages that are not serviced by any transportation. The same goes for the Pakaraimas.
The government will want to tell us that most villages have vehicles. I know that not all residents have access to those vehicles because of the partisan politics that the PPP preaches to the people on their regular visits.
This policy also extends to retirees receiving government pensions. I am not aware of the level of those pensions, but judging by what the salaries were, those pensions cannot be much.
It is morally wrong what has befallen the people. They should not be made to incur unnecessary expense to access their monies. It is a typical case of the government taking the easy way out by shifting the cost for delivering emoluments from themselves to the workers.
It has also demonstrated their unwillingness and/or incapability of instituting adequate measures for the safe and timely delivery of this function of the state.
I am therefore calling on the GTU, GPSU and any other representative trade union to take up the plight of these hapless workers who dare not speak out for fear of losing their jobs.
Carl Parker Sr