Lima Sands school children need help with transportation

Dear Editor,

A group of students from Lima Sands approached me to highlight their problems to the government and the Region Two administration so they can receive help to attend school regularly.These are students who have excelled at the Grade Six Assessment and have gained places at schools outside their community.

First of all I would like to share with the general public how these children and their parents found themselves living at Lima Sands. They were living on an island called Hamburg just off the Adventure stelling, that started to be eroded by the Atlantic. Part of the island was washed away, and fearing for their lives they migrated to D-7 backdam at the back of Bounty Hall village, near to the main conservancy canal. They bought rice lands and they began to cultivate paddy and grow cash crops for a livelihood. I met these people while I was working as a surveyor chainman on the Phase 2 drainage and irrigation project which was an extension of the Tapakuma scheme with the British contracting firm Reed and Mallik Ltd.

When the project was finished they then decided to move to Lima Sands, which is behind the main conservancy canal. The whole area was dense bush, with a trail dividing two areas of vast sand. About 25 families set up their little settlements but continued to grow their rice and cash crops at D-7.They would walk in the early morning from the sands to tend their crops, then return home late at night. On Fridays these farmers and their families would walk to the Anna Regina market to sell their produce some 10 miles away from their settlement.

In 1980, Regional Chairman Mr Ivor Allen,saw their suffering and decided to open the trail and build a perfect loam road from MCR to Red Lock, where they were able to have easy access to the public road with their tractors to Anna Regina. Many of them lived in cramped houses and others in a few rooms called logies. The government then decided to open a new housing scheme, and the vast area was surveyed by the Land and Surveys department and people were allocated house lots on which to build their houses. In 1992, the Central Housing and Planning Authority took over all the old housing schemes. Lima Sands being one of the new housing schemes, more lands were surveyed in this area and allocated to applicants from all over the Coast. Some 1000 house lots were distributed, and people began to occupy the area and built big, fancy houses, and bought cars and motorcycles as their means of transportation to get out to the public road. The population began to grow 10-fold, but transportation became limited, and the hire cars and minibuses from the public road then decided to ply this route to assist the commuters.

New schools, a health centre and a playground were built and provided to the thousands who lived there. In my tenure as a director of the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) the road was widened and rehabilitated with a hard surface, thereby making it easy for students and others to move in and out of the scheme. Due to poor maintenance by the past administration and the CH&PA, the road became impassable, and the minibuses and hire cars hiked their fares from $200 to $500 a student; this has placed a much heavier burden on the already struggling parents who are unemployed, and who in many cases depend on paddy for a living. Some of these students who cannot afford to pay the increased fares decided to drop out of school.

The parents of these students feel that the government and the regional administration need to a devise a strategy so they can overcome their problems. They claim that government should implement a public transportation system for them and their children. Some of these children are   attending the Anna Regina Multilateral school and the Abrams Zuil secondary school, which is almost 20 miles away from their home. The government in my opinion should put something in place to permit the material and social conditions of all the people to improve, since all have contributed to the development process of Guyana.

Yours faithfully,

Mohamed Khan

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