DELAYS in the issuing of passports by the Passport Office are coining under increasing criticism from members of the public.
The passport office now housed in the GTSL office in Lamaha Street, comes under the Ministry of Home Affairs. Every day, large crowds of persons can be seen in the precincts of this office trying to renew expired passports or making enquiries about passports they have applied for.
One applicant told Stabroek News that he applied since February 1988, for a new passport which had cost then $100, and has since been calling every month with the hope of getting the vital document for travelling, but all his efforts have been in vain.
Several persons complained about receiving passports back-dated to two and three months after the date of their original applications, though they only got them much later.
Some people also complained about the uncouth behaviour displayed by some employees at the passport office who refused to check records when applicants turned up to check up on the progress made on their applications, and merely asked them to return. Others claim immediate results if they offer inducements.
In response to enquiries from Stabroek News, a senior official said he is aware of many charges levelled against his office but the situation needed to be properly understood. He said no particular employee has ever been pointed out in the charges made about bribes, but if this arises action will definitely be taken.
He pointed out that the passport office does make what he called ‘genuine mistakes’ which when discovered are corrected promptly, but denied that these mistakes are designed to induce monetary rewards.
The official said the only persons who get priority treatment, are those who need overseas medical attention and even these have to wait on books available.
Guysuco proceeding with Blairmont rice cultivation
The Guyana Sugar Corporation (Guysuco) says that though sugar will continue to be its prime product diversification will continue be a major focus of the company. Guysuco is using for rice planting land previously in cane production made redundant by the sugar cane rationalization programme which resulted in a cane acreage being reduced from 120,000 to 95,000 acres.
Rice grown at Blairmont is one important aspect of the diversification programme.
Rice cultivation there began in 1985 with 1500 acres and according to a press release from Guysuco is up to 2,500 acres. However, according to HO news, a head office publication of October 1989, only 1,594.4 acres of paddy for the first crop have been reaped and only 1,242.8 acres were planted for the second crop. The yield per acre was 17.15 bags.
The five ton an hour milling facility at Blairmont is still in the final stages of construction. The mill was purchased in 1987 from a US company called Vanguard. Two engineers are currently in the country aiding with the installation of some of the equipment and training of the staff.
A standby generator has been purchased for the milling facility and eight silos are currently under construction. The silos are slated for completion in January next year and milling is scheduled to start around March.
Rice grown at Blairmont will be exported directly overseas. Guysuco is attempting to locate markets in the US and Caribbean. Rice will also be purchased locally to be milled.
Skeletons being sold by grave robbers
SKELETONS are allegedly being sold for as much as US$4,000 to North America. And vandals are going into Le Repentir cemetery and breaking open tombs in search of gold jewellery, that people in the past made a practice of burying with their relatives. These and other reports have been surfacing since it was discovered that 3,130 tombs have been broken into between last year and this year.
It has also been suggested that gold fillings in dentures have been removed.
In some cases, it is said, newly built tombs are vandalised and selected parts of the corpse are used for nefarious purposes, such as “obeah”. Most of the tombs are broken on the western side because the head faces the eastern side.
Nearby residents have complained about the stench and fear of an outbreak of disease, since when it rains the open graves flood and overflow.
A City Council constable, recently on duty was brutally attacked and injured by several grave robbers. A nearby resident of Albouystown had to rescue him with a shotgun. The constables have complained of defective weapons. Bones, skulls and dentures have been thrown into the yards of persons who live close to the cemetery.
Some residents of Albouystown who can identify the grave robbers say they made a report to the Ruimveldt Police Station and nothing was done.
There is a list of 13 suspected grave robbers. Le Repentir is not the only cemetery that has been the target of these vagabonds. The Muslim section of Le Repentir, is the only section not disentombed because it is not their custom to bury the dead with jewellery.
On GBC’s programme, ‘Plain Talk’, acting sexton of the cemetery Mr. Murray said he was at a disadvantage, as he was seconded to the cemetery early this year. He was referring to the 1988 reports of 1,600 tombs being vandalised. Newly elected Mavor Compton Young could not understand why the matter was not raised with the City Council. Since the Prime Minister’s recent visit there has been some improvement in the security at the cemetery. The missing slots in the Broad Street entrance to the cemetery’s gate have been replaced and any unauthorised persons found in the cemetery between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. will be prosecuted according to the laws of the city.
Teen of the Week
Glenn wants to be a lawyer
‘THE collapse of the education system in Guyana is not the fault of the Ministry of Education, but a direct result of the national crisis,’ observed this week’s teen Glenn Hanoman.
Glenn feels that the general economic situation in the country has forced qualified teachers to leave the system thus leaving it in a state of disrepair.
The outspoken 19-year-old is a first year law student at the University of Guyana.
After completing his secondary education at Queen’s College, Glenn entered the University to pursue studies in English and Spanish. After the last UG exams, his excellent grades of three Bs and one A allowed him to enter the Caribbean Law course. After initial studies at the local university, Glenn is hoping to move on to the University of the West Indies in Trinidad and Jamaica to further his studies.
“The unavailability of text books is severely hampering my progress since those available are outdated,” he said adding that it is very difficult to acquire these basic books from overseas.
Glenn, who enjoys popular music, fairs and outdoor games such as rugby and football says that a criminal lawyer will always find good business in Guyana since the economic situation is already contributing to a ‘crime wave.’
His father, being a lawyer, has also helped carve his decision to enter the profession.
Although he realised the hardships involved with the studies, Glenn is determined to stick it out as “it will pay off in the end.”
The bespectacled youth who enjoys partying and “lots of food” advised youths to “stay off the streets…don’t let the temptation of money get away with you.”
Residing at Oronoque Street, Queenstown Glenn also encounters serious problems with transportation to and from the university. He says that is very costly and difficult to obtain.