WCB residents call for Govt intervention in community development, agriculture

…Pres Ali responds, makes on-the-spot interventions

Residents along the West Coast of Berbice on Tuesday raised a number of issues that are affecting them when President Dr Irfaan Ali led a high-level team to engage citizens in Paradise and surrounding communities in Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice).

President Dr Irfaan Ali led a Government team for an impromptu visit to Paradise, West Coast Berbice on Tuesday

The Head of State’s visit to the WCB community was impromptu. He had travelled to the region for the sod-turning ceremony for a $6.6 billion level four regional hospital at Bath Settlement, WCB.
While at Paradise, President Ali engaged residents on issues affecting their communities including in the areas of agriculture, infrastructure, water, and security.
In response, President Ali made a number of on-the-spot interventions. Among them is a commitment to upgrade the ballfield and pavilion in Paradise for the youths. Culture Youth and Sport Minister Charles Ramson Jr is already on the ball with this, the residents were told.
There was also a request for skills training programmes targeting the region’s school dropouts. According to the President, “We should look to see if they’re interested in remedial education and get them into patient care management programmes and those types of programmes so they can get employment when they’re finished.”
With regard to security, a member of the Region Five Community Policing Group (CPG) informed the Guyanese Leader that they do not have any vehicles to do patrols.
President Ali indicated that when his Administration took office in 2020, the Guyana Police Force (GPF) only had about 50 working vehicles for the entire country and in Division Five (Mahaica-Berbice), there were only two vehicles.
“Commander [of Division Five] has been working hard to increase it. We just ordered 50 more… Each station now has a vehicle and now we’re going to move to help the CPG to get vehicles,” he assured.
In the area of infrastructure and community development, concerns were expressed about the poor quality of water, which is high in iron content, in the WCB villages,. But the Head of State explained that Guyana’s ground water usually contained heavy iron content and this was something that Government was addressing through its water treatment initiative.
“One of the plans that we have right now in the whole investment infrastructure is to have along the coast, 100 per cent treated water by 2026. So, we’ve started a programme of building treatment plants all across every single region. So, I would say by the end of 2024, as a result of that investment, we’ll start see massive improvements,” he stated.
Moreover, the residents also complained about deplorable streets in several communities. The President not only promised to have these roads fixed, but also have the works done by persons in the area.
“The way we want these streets to be done is we want local people to be involved. These are the concrete roads type of streets that we’ll be building and we’ll be working to have a few of the local people and local contractors involved in building this,” the Guyanese Leader said.
To this end, President Ali ordered Local Government and Regional Development Minister Nigel Dharamlall to return to the area on Wednesday to conduct an assessment of the roads that need to be fixed and engage the residents on the works to be done.
In addition to Dharamlall, the Head of State also instructed that the Minister assigned to Region Five, Sonia Parag, along with Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha, to attend the meeting in order to address the barrage of issues farmers face in the region.
One man who chairs a Farmers’ Association with approximately 50 members – mostly young people involved in cash crop, rice and livestock farming – asked for assistance with agricultural inputs. As such, the President ordered Minister Zulfikar to meet with the farmers to ascertain what support could be given to them.
Other farmers, including one who lost his rice crop and was promised paddy to replant and another who lost her livestock to floods, were seeking updates on assistance. They were told that Minister Mustapha would address this when he visited later this week.
Another livestock farmer also spoke of difficulties accessing molasses, but the Head of State reminded him that Government was now trying to revive the ailing sugar industry, which produces molasses as a by-product. While the farmer was told that many persons were moving away from using molasses due to its shortage in recent years, the President’s team, nonetheless, took the information of the farmer with the aim of assisting him.
Meanwhile, one resident reminded President Ali had promised during a previous visit to the region to have the backdam cleaned for farming activities; however, this is yet to be done despite them submitting the relevant signatures.
However, a representative from the Agriculture Ministry explained that they were currently reviewing the list to verify landownership, since they do not want to infringe on any private lands.
President Ali was adamant that this process must be completed by next week. He also urged the residents and farmers to be proactive and reach out to Government representatives to have their issues dealt with.
“We care about development… You guys have to work for yourselves. We want to help to provide leadership, that is why we put a Minister here. Don’t be afraid, you come to her. We’re embracing. We’re for everyone. We want everyone to be part of this…
“And when Sonia comes to the community, y’all come out and talk to her. Come out and share your ideas. Y’all come out and work with her. That’s all I’m asking… and that is the way we’ll work for the community,” the Guyanese Leader posited. (G8)