Last week, President Irfaan Ali commissioned a brand-new four-lane road linking Eccles on the East Bank Demerara to Mandela Avenue in Georgetown. This new carriageway has immediately reduced the traffic into Georgetown from the East Bank. While by itself, it cannot fully resolve the traffic jam, it has brought some ease in the traffic. For residents of South Georgetown who live just five minutes from downtown, Georgetown, the traffic jam in the mornings could make this trip more than an hour. With the new road, residents in South Georgetown can travel into the city much faster. These citizens have had their lives made better, with a dramatic ease in their travel woes.
That is what a government is expected to do. While naysayers have focused on the depiction of the Harpy Eagle located in the roundabout, citizens in South Georgetown and those who need to bypass the city on their way to the East Bank or to the East Coast can save much-needed time because of this new roadway. In less than two years, since his inauguration, President Ali has kept his promise and the new beautiful Eccles-to-Mandela Road is actually being used by thousands of vehicles every single day already. The new, beautifully landscaped road also set a standard for road construction in Guyana. But it is only one of the new roadways to ease traffic jams in and around Georgetown. Another one is starting from Ogle to Diamond. Both the Eccles-to-Mandela and the Ogle bypass roads are expected to link up to the new Silicon Village on the Linden Highway.
A visionary President and a responsive Government have combined to make the lives of thousands of citizens better, with more improvement to come. The plans were there. For five years the David Granger-led A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) procrastinated and sat on the plans.
For some of us, the driving force in fighting for democracy is that we can have a government that try to make the lives of citizens a little better each and every day. Free and fair elections at regular periods provide citizens an opportunity to have their say on how the Government they elected is meeting that obligation. When the people of Guyana on March 2, 2020 voted in the election that Granger and APNU/AFC delayed for more than one year, the people elected Dr Irfaan Ali to be their President and the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) to lead the government. They believed that Dr Irfaan Ali and the PPP would work harder and better to make people’s lives better than the Granger-led APNU/AFC.
Less than two weeks ago, President Ali and Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo led the Cabinet in an outreach to Region Six. The President and the VP led large community meetings in different parts of Region Six, while Ministers fanned out to meet with communities. Between President Ali and VP Bharrat Jagdeo, several significant announcements were made that have major implications for the lives of the people of Region Six and also for the Guyanese people. A new international airport in Rose Hall, Canje; a new hotel in Palmyra and a new stadium, similar to Providence National Stadium, also in Palmyra, are to be constructed. Already, a deep-water harbour is taking shape on Crab Island. The expanded Albion Sugar Estate is intended to operationalise a modern packaging plant. This Region will also see a major overhaul of the New Amsterdam Hospital, a new hospital to replace Skeldon Hospital and hundreds of new roads and schools and new housing schemes. More than $3 billion has been set aside for community roads. These are real, concrete examples of a government working to makes lives better, each and every day. People’s lives in Region Six are about to have a major upgrade.
Since the announcements in Region Six, the naysayers, becoming more and more desperate, have jumped on the plans with their negativity. There was a story a few days ago in one of the favourite newspapers of the naysayers by a perpetual naysayer who disappeared between 2015 and 2020, but has miraculously found his voice again. A Charles Sohan described the various Region Six projects as “white elephants”. These are the same naysayers that said the Hope Canal project could never be built and, even if it were built, it would be a constant danger to the lives of people and a “white elephant”. The canal has safely functioned. But those voices, proven wrong every single time, have risen again.
They object to the plans for Region Six with various dubious reasons. Charles Sohan’s objection is that the people of Region Six will never be able to attend activities at the stadium or visit the hotel or use the airport because they have been out of jobs since the estates have been closed, etc. The charlatans were quiet when Granger and APNU/AFC closed the sugar estates. Now that the estates are reopening, now that other development projects are on their way, the charlatans have come alive again. The real test of our democracy is whether our people will embrace the vision of President Ali and the PPP Government or the pathetic negativity of the naysayers like the ones who scream these new facilities in Region Six will not benefit the people.