Orealla–Siparuta residents call for removal of toshao
Residents of the Upper Corentyne riverine community of Orealla/Siparuta on Thursday called for the removal of the toshao, Carl Peneux, who is accused of a number of corrupt and discriminatory practices.
In addition, the residents have accused the official of not working in the best interest of the two Amerindian communities.
In the first step of removing Peneux, the residents have dispatched a signed petition to Minister of Amerindian Affairs, Pauline Sukhai. However, to reinforce their position, some of the villagers staged a peaceful picketing exercise.
The villagers have listed several reasons that warrant the removal of the toshao. These include inaccurate financial records, and failure to meet with residents to apprise them of decisions taken on behalf of the communities.
Guyana Times was told that the last community meeting was held in February 2020, and had to come to an abrupt end after the records produced by the captain were found to be inaccurate. The toshao has since refused to hold a community meeting, and blames the pandemic for not doing so. As a result, several residents had penned a letter to the toshao, requesting a meeting with him, but he had refused their request.
Not satisfied with the response, the villagers met with Minister Sukhai, who later dispatched a letter to Peneux advising him to meet with five concerned residents, heads of departments and religious leaders. That meeting never materialised, and he was accused of being disrespectful for not carrying out the orders of the minister.
As such, a motion of no confidence was moved against him, and the petition was sent to minister.
The residents accuse him of making his own rules and imposing sanctions. Further, he decides who travels in and out of the villages, even in case of medical emergencies.
Meanwhile, over 200 residents signed the petition asking for the subject minister to intervene.
The toshao’s term in office comes to an end in May, 2021, but the residents are holding out that they have no confidence in him.
One villager, Percy Peneux, explained that one of the major concerns for them is the construction of a road that would link the two Amerindian communities.
“We brought this matter to the attention of the toshao from the time that we detected the faults. I personally would have made mention on several occasions to different councillors from Orealla and from Siparuta.”
Some $123 million was budgeted for the construction of the road.
Peneux said the road is in a deplorable state, thus making it impossible for persons and vehicles to traverse.
The $123M budgeted for the road does not include any money for the material, since the loam comes from the savannah right where the road is being constructed.
The APNU/AFC Government had made an agreement with Orealla and Siparuta village councils to compensate them for the loam. Villagers are now suspicious over a new agreement between the village and the contractor, since most of the revenue earned by the villages come from the sand which is being sold. This, Peneux added, has is riddled with discrepancies.
“Now they have barges that they go to take the sand. We would have done some investigations into the amount that they would carry per load, and when we would have done some calculations mathematically, will you realise that the volume of sand that they carry is approximately two times more than the amount that they pay for,” the villager added.
In the Amerindian Act of 2006, it is stated that the toshao should adequately represent the community, providing advice and directions.
The toshaos are also expected under law to provide good governance in their respective communities. The actions of the toshao, residents state, are clearly not in the best interest of the people.