Closing of wash-bay leaves youths without employment

Dear Editor,

The unemployment rate in Guyana is staggering and climbing every day. In the three years of this APNU+AFC coalition, the government has demonstrated its inability to grow the economy and to create jobs, especially for young people in the rural areas. About two months ago, a 58-year old resident of Tempie, Marlin Kwok, invested over $400,000 to construct a car-wash bay for her 19-year old grandson, Joshua Johnson to keep him gainfully employed. She was concerned about the high use of drugs by youths in the neighbouring No 30 Village, and was determined to give her grandson an opportunity to make something meaningful of his life. She viewed her investment as a means of creating employment for him and other youths in the village of Tempie. The wash bay employs three, with others on a part-time basic when things get busy on weekends. But this is about to end.

Last Sunday, Region Five APNU Regional Councillor, Dillon Crawford, hand-delivered a letter signed by his wife, Oneca Sam, the Overseer of the Tempie/Seafield NDC, advising of the imminent closure of this car-wash bay if it is not “demolished” within 48 hours.

In an interview I had with Ms Marlin Kwok, she claims that several members of the Tempie/Seafield NDC, including the Chairman, Frank Wilson, had prior knowledge of the wash bay at the time of construction and could have stopped her then, rather than waiting until she had spent over $400,000 to complete the project. The area is concreted and has a wooden ramp. There is no building associated with the car-wash.

Over 12 years ago, Ms Kwok built a small wooden roadside shack on the same reserve, where she has been selling fruits and vegetables since. She was never given notice to move by the previous administration, and wonders if her livelihood will now be taken away by the APNU+AFC she voted for in 2015.

Admittedly, Ms Kwok is well aware that both her fruit shack and her grandson’s car-wash bay are illegally constructed on government’s reserve. However, there is much need for both these services in the Tempie area, and the need to encourage more young entrepreneurs to help reduce the unemployment rate.

In addition, there is no plan by government that I am aware of, to utilize this piece of waste land in the foreseeable future. There are no neighbours close by to complain, and the water used by the car-wash is disposed of properly without causing floods. So why not leave them alone? These people are just trying to survive and make an honest living during the hard times we’re facing as a nation. And any attempt to “demolish” this wash bay will not only deny them a chance of achieving the “good life” the government touts, but this heartless act would send a strong message to their own supporters that the APNU+AFC government is not caring at all.

Yours faithfully,

Harry Gill, MP

PPP/C

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