Rotterdam Village is located on the East Bank of the Berbice River with a population of just about 70. The village has two kokers, a cemetery, one main access road with cane fields on one side of the backlands and the Berbice River on the other.
If one desires to travel to Rotterdam, one has to venture to the East Bank Berbice car park and wait at least 20 minutes for a hire car to fill before it heads to the area. Leaving is an entirely different ball game. Since fire cars seldom pass along the roadways, this reporter sat for over two hours in the only bus shed in the village, as the rain poured before one arrived.
A farming and cattle-rearing based village, Rotterdam is home to persons who seek a “quiet life,” residents said.
The man who resides in the third house one sees on entering the village when heading from New Amsterdam, Ray Adams, 49, explained that he has lived in Rotterdam all of his life; “It so peaceful, quiet”.
Adams said the village is one of the few not prone to violence and this is why he enjoys residing there. “We don’t have no crime, none, it’s so peaceful, people live as one,” he said.
He recalled that when he was growing up, residents used “kerosene lamps” at night. He and other villagers are therefore happy that electricity has been installed in homes. Adams noted that he has young children attending school and he is grateful that they have electricity to study at night.
Additionally, he explained that since they have access to water and open lands, “We does do lil farming and rearing of cattle.”
Adams called for the installation of streetlights along the main access road in the village.
Adams’s mother, Hyacinth Adams, 87, the village’s oldest resident at present, called for the authorities to embark on clearing its bushy areas. “The village get a little improvement with the road and so, but before my time meet I want see them clear out all these bushes around our house,” she said.
Hyacinth moved to Rotterdam as a young bride and has fond memories of it when it was nothing but dams and a few houses.
The woman took the opportunity to encourage young persons to “speak up and stand up” for what they believe in.
Another resident, Marva Adams, 50, called for the authorities to look into proper river defence throughout the village, which is close to the Berbice River. “Them did put dirt and full up but the dirt wash way,” she added.
She noted that the regional officials would “clean our drains from time to time,” and at present the trenches and drains in the village are in dire need of clearing.
Marva said she and her husband have “a home garden,” from which “one, one body does buy when they want, but is for we cook”. They grow bora, cassava and peppers among other things.
Her daughter, Jenelle Adams, 27, sounded the call for after-school activities for youths. According to her, the village comprises mostly middle-aged and young folks, and more attention needs to be paid to activities for the young ones in order to prevent them from straying to the wrong side of the law.
The village has a “ball field,” she noted, but youths enjoy playing cricket along the main road especially when it rains.
Lakhram Persaud, 37, has lived his entire life in the village. Persaud who is employed at a sawmill in a nearby village said his job is a hard one, but he does it because he wants to improve his life.
Taramattie Persaud, a mother of five called for streetlights, explaining that it would assist when her relatives return from work during the night.
John Durant, 73, who was visiting the sawmill in Rotterdam to purchase some strips of wood for a fence, stated that he is friendly with many residents of the village, who are “kind and quiet people”.
Durant, a pensioner, said he enjoys taking his horse cart for a stroll through the East Bank Berbice, making stops in Rotterdam and other villages.
Shalaan Bacchus, 70, of Crabwood Creek Village, Corentyne, owner of the S and N Sawmill in Rotterdam, explained, that it was built by his father in 1974 and then sold several years later, after his father died. But as luck would have had it, the sawmill went up for sale once more and Bacchus’s sister purchased it sawmill for the family in the late 90s.
Bacchus drives daily from Crabwood Creek to Rotterdam. He explained that the sawmill took a lot of investment and some pieces of equipment were purchased from England to ensure that the sawmill can function fully. He explained that the processed lumber the sawmill produces is sold throughout Berbice.
Bacchus also noted that at present business is very rough. He called for more attention to be paid to local persons who have the ability to push Guyana forward. Bacchus said he recently visited the timber expo and was stunned at the ability of local persons who created masterpieces with various types of lumber.
He said local items should be marketed more and tourist attractions should be improved in the country.
Meanwhile, the businessman said, a road should be constructed from Crabwood Creek to Orealla, and another from Mara, East Bank Berbice to Kimbia, Berbice River as “We need some more roads”. According to Bacchus, if these areas can be accessed by roads then the possibilities for Region Six and the country would be endless.
Another resident, Mark Lawrence, 58, said, “I want plenty things improve, I want proper drainage, road conditions improve, streetlights.”
Lawrence, who was employed at the Rose Hall Estate before its closure explained that he enjoys cattle rearing. He said that he would never leave Rotterdam because that is where he loves to spend his time. “I can deh here whole day. It quiet. I does play me TV and nobody don’t even know if I in there because I does play it for me alone hear. People quiet in this area,” he said.
Additionally, residents explained, that several persons have migrated and either closed their houses or put them up for sale. The village has several abandoned houses surrounded by vines and bushes.
Throughout my visit to Rotterdam, the rain poured, and residents were kind enough to offer shelter. They said that persons often pass through Rotterdam without stopping, and they were happy for the company and the exposure.