Mayor of Linden Carwyn Holland is calling for the setting up of the long-awaited Linden Television Station, which remains stalled five years after an agreement for its establishment and in which former Region Ten Chairman, Sharma Solomon was a key negotiator.
“It was a promise to the people and it’s being held up by personality clashes and old political grievances and no one seems to take into consideration that the station is for the people and not a person. We have to look at the greater good and put aside personal differences,” Mayor Holland said when contacted by this newspaper on the issue.
“As Mayor, I am calling on the relevant persons who hold the authority to advance this process to get it done before November 15,” he continued.
The mayor said that should there be no movement by that date, he will officially write to Minister of State Joseph Harmon for some concrete actions on behalf of the people of Region Ten (Upper Demerara/Upper Berbice).
“Linden must not be held back because of a few, Linden must move forward. At the end of the day, it’s the government that will be blamed and, truthfully, it’s our own people that’s holding it back,” he further said.
Since the aborting of a meeting in April this year that was convened to set up the 14-member board of the Region Ten Broadcasting Inc (RTBI), there has been no further meeting, this newspaper has been told.
“Mr. Solomon is playing politics. I am saying this because he is the one to move this process forward and he has done nothing, nothing, to ensure that the members of the board of trustees is increased to 15,” a source, who is one of the proposed directors, told this newspaper.
Again, the Sunday Stabroek attempted to solicit a comment from Solomon on the issue but to no avail. As was the case in February, Solomon repeatedly asked the reporter to call back and when this was done there was no answer. Repeated calls were futile.
“Mr. Solomon has done nothing to advance the licence process,” another source said.
The April meeting was convened to elect a Chairperson of RTBI and a company secretary but it ended with no decisions being made after several directors walked out. It was stated that the directors had requested documentation from Solomon on how the board was to be constituted and function so that their actions would at all times be in keeping with their mandate.
However, Solomon reportedly failed to provide these documents after promising to do so and the directors decided that it would not be prudent to make any decisions.
Two governments and two boards of the Guyana National Broadcasting Authority (GNBA) have been in place yet the licence has not been issued for the setting up of the station.
According to Holland, with a television station, so much could be done for the young aspiring journalists in the town. “We can kick start our own local content,” he said.
He also said that had he been the original negotiator, he would have not limited his negotiation to a licence but rather “it has to come with the equipment to operate and operate effectively. It was a complete operation that was gifted to the people of Linden, and a complete system needed to be returned.”
So important was the granting of the licence to the people of Region Ten that the coalition government had named it as one of its goals to be achieved during its first 100 days in office. Now at the halfway point of the administration’s five-year term, Linden is still waiting on that station.
On June 25, 2015, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo had told the National Assembly that the situation in Linden would be corrected expeditiously after the Broadcasting Authority was restructured – it was then headed by PPP/C member and former minister Bibi Shadick – and reviewed the application for a television licence by the people of Linden. He told the National Assembly that a television for the people of the region was “guaranteed” and that technical arrangements were being finalised to have the people of the mining town operate their own television station.
It was Solomon who had created the entity to meet the licence eligibility requirements and it initially comprised Directors who were taken from a cross-section of the Region Ten community.
They were Solomon, Sandra Vantull, Pastor Morris McKinnon and the now deceased Haslyn Parris. Following his death, Parris was replaced on the board by Gloria Britton.
The television licence was one of the agreements hammered out following weeks of protest in Linden that were sparked in July, 2012, after three men were killed.