Amid reports that he would not be selected again for the top post in the region, former Region Ten Chairman Sharma Solomon said the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) pursued and achieved a number of measures aimed at ensuring equal rights, justice and self-determination, during his three-year tenure.
“Ours is a Region (which) though rich in resources (human and natural) has been reeling from political victimisation, external plundering and high unemployment,” he said in a press release, adding that the people of Region 10 remain grateful for the solidarity shown during its struggles for upliftment.
In response to questions asked about the work of the last RDC, Solomon said its policies and programmes “were guided by the philosophy to play a role in helping the people to determine their destiny consistent with the spirit and intent of Article 13 of the Guyana Constitution. In keeping with this, the RDC provided the requisite leadership to ensure the enabling conditions were made possible for residents and their community development.”
Chief among these achievements is the RDC’s obtaining of a stay in the electricity increase im-posed on the region on July 1, 2012 under the previous administration. The region embarked on protest action and persuaded the central government to reverse its decision which the RDC believed would further impoverish the community.
The management of the region’s internal programmes also ensured that 42 roads were upgraded to asphaltic surfaces and, in 2013, engaged Chinese logging company Bai Shanlin on good corporate practise and mutuality of benefits to the company and community. This pact allowed the RDC to hold the company accountable for the stewardship of its environment and ensured that it rebuilt and upgraded the $40M farm-to-market road at Moblissa destroyed during its operations.
Through the RDC’s advocacy the Linden to Kwakwani road was fixed on September 6, 2013 after 22 residents including a 15-year-old, were put before the court after highlighting the deplorable state of the road in a community that contributes significantly to the national economy. The region also persuaded central government to commit to installing street lights along the Amelia’s Ward/Sir David Rose/ Republic Avenue routes during discussions on the August 21, 2012 Agree-ment following the death of Councillor Leon Barret in an accident on the Linden/Soesdyke High-way.
Under this agreement, the region also grappled with central government on its control of the Region 10 Land Selection Committee which resulted in control reverting to the region.
The RDC then embarked on an exercise to ensure residents were given an opportunity to be housed in areas that were identified for housing and to cultivate farmlands. As such, over 2000 acres of farmland and over 250 house lots were distributed.
Government also agreed to return control of the Linden television station gifted to the region by Green Construction. On August 6, 2013, the RDC established the Region Ten Broadcasting Inc. Resi-dents through self-help, constructed the TV station. “We await the approval of the licence and the return of channel 13 and dish,” Solomon said.
The region also induced the central government to establish a Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the deaths on July 18, 2012 of Ron Somerset, 18; Shemroy Bouyea, 24; and Allan Lewis, 46 while exercising their constitutional right to protest. The CoI found the police culpable and made recommendations for police reform including improvement in police/community relations, holding culpable officers accountable and the Force operating in concert with international procedures and human rights declarations, the statement said. “Compensations have been recommended to the deceased families, though we hold the view that the sums are unreasonable,” according to Solomon.
The RDC also supported the Amerindian village of Hururu which confronted central government and investors over unsustainable environmental practices and extraction of the country’s resources, exploitation of workers and destruction of infrastructure. “The people of Region 10 need …investment that would redound in their interests,” the former chairman said. He noted that since the last central government was not forthcoming with these investments, residents were urged to come together and expand their co-operative drive to make their livelihoods.