Govt to address river, road transportation issues identified by Toshaos
After a two-year hiatus, the return of the National Toshaos Conference (NTC) to the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC) has been hailed by the newly elected Chairman of the National Toshaos Council, Derrick John.
John, who is the Toshao of Moraikobai, Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice), in a sit down with the State-owned NCN spoke about the importance of the NTC conference. John was only on Monday elected Chairman of the NTC, taking over from Nicholas Fredericks.
According to John, the conference allows the voice of Indigenous leaders to be heard. And their voices have been loud, with several Toshaos calling for issues affecting them at the local level to be addressed.
“This conference is very important, because for the past several years, we didn’t have an executive body for the National Toshao Council. And so, this council will bring together and re-establish an Executive body. Because we need to have the voices of our Indigenous brothers and sisters be heard, nationally and globally.”
John, in his third term as Toshao, also spoke about his plans for Moraikobai and the support he has thus far received from the Government. One of the things he spoke of is an all-weather road linking his region to Region 10.
“I have several things I hope to accomplish in my tenure in office. One of the things is the road connectivity. Linden is the closest town to Moraikobai, that is connecting Region 10 to Region Five. We have trail now that is very adventurous and I hope that my dream can be realised by having an all-weather road linking Linden to Moraikobai.”
“That will serve the purpose of having our farm produce be transported to ready market, which is a town. And also, to the capital city of Georgetown. It will also enhance tourism in our community,” John further explained.
Meanwhile Toshao Micah Davis of Toka village in Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo) was also appreciative of the conference, as well as the investments being made in his community. He mentioned the progress that has been made, in the areas of Information and Communications Technology (ICT), potable water and tourism.
“It’s a long-awaited conference that we’ve been waiting for. And I think we have a lot to share here. And we will be looking forward for a successful outcome after this conference,” Davis said.
“Some of the development that we’ve started with, along with the help from the Government, we have the drill well, where we are now having some proper water system in the community. Which we’ve been suffering from for all the years gone by.”
This publication spoke to Toshaos and village leaders who gave a summary of some of the grievances in their communities. Toshao Kingsley Baptiste of Three Brothers Village in Region One, also told this publication that while the NTC is a good initiative, there are issues in his village that need addressing, particularly in the area of transportation.
“The transportation for the health workers in there, we need transportation. Because sometimes we get some emergency cases and boat does gotta go from Mabaruma to where I live, it’s like 60 miles. That’s the one health hut. And the next one is about 80 or more.”
“So, when we get incidents and emergencies, boat does gotta go from Mabaruma to there… and we don’t want small engines. We have small engines but it takes about six to seven hours to get out. So, we need big engines,” Baptiste said, noting that there are cases where people get snake bites or fall and cannot get the emergency care they need, in time.
In an interview with this publication, Senior Councillor Phillip Harris from Seven Mile Branch Road, Moruca (Region One), said one of the biggest issues his community faces is the state of the roadways. While he praised the initiative taken to hold the NTC, he was hopeful that tangible outcomes including help for his community could come out of it.
“As a Senior Councillor, we have a lot of issues there. The main issue in the area is that we need our road to upgrade. Many times, people promise, Toshaos they come and promise us, we will see about the road. And they never do. They come into positions and on to this day, that road is really bad. It’s in bad condition.”
“People, especially on Saturday they do the market, they carry their produce. They bring their stocks. The vehicle can only meet by me, which is only halfway the road. And they have to fetch the stocks from there,” Harris said.
The five-day conference runs until Friday and has attracted the participation of hundreds of village leaders. Other than Toshao John’s election, two persons tied for the position of Deputy Chair, and this will be sorted later by the Executive. Karrau Toshao, Shane Cornelius was elected NTC Secretary, while Michael Thomas, Toshao of Aishalton was elected Treasurer. (G3)