Water cannon finally sent to Linden
Linden unrest continues…
- residents reject proposal to ‘suspend’ tariff hikes
The contentious Kara Kara Bridge remained under the control of Joint Services Ranks for most of yesterday, after it was cleared of logs and other debris which were placed there by angry protestors.
Dozens of ranks formed themselves into human barricades on both sides of the bridge some 30 meters away to prevent demonstrators from replacing the blockages.
The operation to clear the bridge commenced early yesterday morning with a bulldozer aiding the ranks in the arduous task.
However, residents continued to place old car parts and fallen trees across the stretch of road between the Amelia’s Ward, First Bus Shed and the Police Outpost.
The atmosphere remained tense throughout the day and was compounded by an apparent lack of human resources on the part of the joint services to adequately deal with the situation in a holistic manner.
It was observed that as fast as sections of the road were cleared, demonstrators would quickly replace the blockade.
Many persons compared the heavy military presence especially in the vicinity of Kara Kara bridge and beyond to ‘Baghdad’ and other ‘war zones’.
A press release from the Joint Services issued last night stated that ranks “having been directed by the Commander-in-Chief President Donald Ramotar, have secured the approach to Linden via the Kara Kara Bridge and roadway.”
The release said that in an operation commencing at 04:00 hours yesterday, the Joint Services moved into the location, dislodged the protestors mobilized on site and took control of the bridge and roadway.
Earth moving equipment were deployed and commenced the removal of logs and other debris from the bridge and roadway.
“By 05:45 hours the Joint Services had completed clearing the bridge, opening the road corridor and informing the Commander-in-Chief. The bridge and roadway have been secured by a detachment, but small pockets of debris may still be encountered. The Joint Services will however continue to clear as they are in place, in order to maintain the site open to vehicular traffic to and from the Linden community. The Joint Services will, as instructed, maintain the road corridor open for the use of the Linden community.”
The recently acquired $37M water cannon was finally transported to the troubled mining Region atop of a low bed truck. According to residents, the cannon’s arrival was an “overnight operation” since they had been informed earlier in the day that it had left Georgetown.
At daybreak yesterday the cannon was seen being brought out form Camp Soweyo.
“We hear it coming but we know from long that it was a waste of money. Kaieteur News skin them up long that it ain’t working.”
Annoyance soon turned to ridicule, as curious onlookers converged at the Kara Kara bridge, to view what one man called the ‘ugly monster’.
The water cannon’s presence on the bridge only served to further irritate residents, who once more ‘cussed out’ the police.
One woman opined, “but is wha dey bring this thing here for, right now I could pee further than da could spout water, da is a waste of taxpayers money.”
The comparison the woman made about her ‘urinary capability’ with the water shooting force of the cannon was echoed by several others, many of whom stared at the machine in obvious disdain.
Hardly a person passed the machine without making snide remarks about the usefulness of the equipment.
There were later reports that a trial test by the canon was a dismal failure, ‘as all the water leaked out’, and the Linden Fire Service was later called to replenish the water from the nearby Kara Kara Creek.
Even as it attempted to start up one man was heard saying “An old woman can piss and push out more water than that thing.” Residents again reiterated that they will not be deterred in their struggle.
“They putting on this thing and all the water gushing out from the bottom. It had a premature ejaculation,” one resident joked.
Meanwhile, further up the road at the Bamia area, the thoroughfare was still blocked as persons in a line of traffic sat waiting for those manning the ‘road block’ to allow them to pass.
Also several streets in Amelia’s Ward remained blocked, forcing commuters and even residents to seek alternative routes.
Residents again vowed to continue their struggle until their demands, including scrapping the increase in electricity tariffs, creation of a better environment for business development and jobs, and compensation for those killed and injured are met.
In the meantime arrangements are being put in place to have the three slain men buried together on Wednesday. Ron Somersett, Ivan Lewis, Ron Somerset, of Amelia’s Ward and Shemroy Bouyea were gun down on July 18th last during a protest and standoff with police ranks at the Wismar/MacKenzie Bridge. That site has since been taken over by residents who have set up camps designated for cooking so as to provide meals for the protestors. A massive joint church service was also held at the spot yesterday. Ever since the shooting, women have been dedicating their time and energy towards providing meals for those fighting for their voices to be heard. The residents have also been kind to the army ranks who are stationed at the location, providing them with water as they carry out their duty. However, they remain hostile towards the police who they blame for the bloodshed of their brothers and sons.
Residents’ reaction to President’s announced visit –
The residents of Linden said the cancellation of President Donald Ramotar’s visit to their community is a blatant insult.
The consensus in the mining town is that their rights are being trampled upon and that there are seen as puppets to the government.
The President on the advice of the Joint Services cancelled a planned visit to the community on Saturday last.
One resident, Jacquelyn Bourne who was injured during a standoff between the Joint Services and the protestors at the Kara Kara Bridge on Saturday was very vocal on the situation.
Bourne, a journalist by profession, and who heads the Guyananewsnetwork.com, said that in her mind, the President’s ‘no show’ is an insult. It took him more than 11 days after the incident to just announce his willingness to meet with the people of Linden.
Like other residents, Bourne recalled that it took the entire cabinet mere hours after the Bartica slaughter and the Lusignan massacre to reach to the affected communities.
“When there is a protest with GuySuCo, the Minister run to those areas. Why are we being isolated? No one ever came to meet with the grieving families, no one. It took them 11 days just to make an announcement,” Bourne lamented.
The woman whose body bore abrasions and bruises which she sustained from the fracas at the Kara Kara bridge said that numerous residents have since indicated that they are not willing to meet with the President since he is “a little too late”.
“All the time we wanted to talk they were not coming and even if the President is willing to come we cannot stop him. He has a right to come to any part of the country,” another resident lamented.
Some even expressed the view that they are being provoked by the police ranks who have been assigned to the location.
“We were told that the President wanted to come and it is obvious that the roads have to be cleared for his procession but the police yet again started this thing this morning (Saturday morning).”
Yesterday, there was much activity in the makeshift kitchens that were set up to help feed those involved in the struggle.
A tent stands in close proximity to the kitchens, near to the West Watooka Farmers tarmac.
Here many persons congregated yesterday for an interfaith service.
As could be expected a lot of prayers were said for the Town, and its leaders.
Another prayer service was also held on the Mackenzie shore, on the Amelia’s Ward Hill a little distance from the Kara Kara Bridge.
Here persons gathered in the open air on the road and prayed and sang for more than an hour.
Meanwhile, late yesterday, President of the Guyana Women Miners’ Association Simona Broomes, drove all the way to Linden to distribute over 40 food and vegetable hampers to the organization’s members in Linden.
Broomes took time of off from distributing the hampers to speak with the media.
“Well my organization, we talk about commitment and we are committed to our members, in spite of their situations and we have women here in Linden that are very committed to the organization, and as President I bear them in my heart every day, in fact I pray to God that he keeps them safe, knowing that they are out here many days; and with the problems that they are currently faced with here, I know that things like food is necessary. So as President, we just don’t want to come to our members and say ‘well, look our prayers are with you’. We want to do something tangible, like distribute some food items. And last week we sent in some money to the ladies here to cook and feed over three hundred persons, right on the road here. So this is not the first venture, but this is my first visit as President since the protest started, because I wanted to come and see them, and see what the conditions are like, and hear what is really affecting them in this crisis, and how we could help.”
Broomes assured that her organization would always seek ways to alleviate the struggles of people.
Yesterday marked the twelfth day of protest against increased electricity tarrifs for the mining Town. Two days ago Lindeners were told by Regional Chairman Sharma Solomon, that there was a proposal by Government that the increase would be put on hold, but this proposal has been rejected as unsatisfactory by residents, who have vowed not to retreat or surrender until the tariffs are withdrawn.