Linden protests continue until electricity tariffs withdrawn
Region 10 Chairman says…
- blockades to be removed for essential services
Chairman of Region 10, Sharma Solomon said yesterday that major stakeholders within the mining town have resolved that the weeks-long protest action will only cease when the increased electricity tariffs are withdrawn.
He said that the resolution was made during a meeting on Saturday with major stakeholders in the Bauxite Mining community.
It came on the very day that President Donald Ramotar indicated that he will not visit Linden until the blockades are removed.
“The resolution was put forward by the chairperson of the meeting pastor Selwyn Sills, and at the end of the meeting the stakeholders stood strongly in solidarity with the actions taken so far- that there must be a withdrawal of this imposition (increased tariffs) that came about on the 1st of July, and that is the decision that we continue to advance with,” Solomon told media operatives during a press conference yesterday.
He added that the protest action could be called off today if Government withdraws the increased tariffs.
“We dealt with the removal of assault rifles on the streets, and ensuring that there are small arms being carried by police officers. We also dealt with the information on the inquiry into the shootings, and the economic advancement of the region.
“Those were the topics that we had discussed on the 23rd July. Coming out of those discussions, we managed to allow for further engagements. The discussions centered around critical issues- which would have been the electricity tariffs, and economic advancement, and recommendations that come out of the technical team.”
Solomon added that discussions started on July 19th, immediately after the shooting to death of the three Lindeners.
He subsequently met the President on July 23rd where he advanced what came out of the stakeholder’s forum.
Solomon pointed out that what was brought out at that meeting was the need for the establishment of technical teams to deal with the general cost of generation and distribution of electricity in the region.
Also dealt with was the security issue, the removal of Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, the land selection committee, compensation for families of those killed and the commission of enquiry into the shootings.
Another meeting that should have been held on July 24th was subsequently held on July 31st, according to Solomon.
“At that meeting the Region 10 delegation got there and saw the Private Sector Commission, which was invited by the President or government, to observe those discussions.
“We were never aware that the government had indicated that others would have been involved in these discussions. We said to the government that any such involvement should be a consensus. We would appreciate the Private Sector, but not only the private sector, we would appreciate other National and Regional Stakeholders,” Solomon declared.
Meanwhile, Pastor Selwyn assured that movement of essential services will not be hindered by the roadblocks, even though the blockades will continue. Those services include health and other essential services.
Norris King further elaborated, that any vehicle such as ambulances and other vehicles attached to the hospitals would be allowed to pass through unimpeded. Vehicles transporting food items will also pass.
King further pointed out that the blockades would be cleared between 06:00 hrs to 07:00 hrs and 18:00 hrs and 19:00 hrs daily, and 12:00 hrs and 13:00 hrs. According to King, the clearances are only for Lindeners and other residents of Region 10, whom he urged to make good use of these times.
Member of Parliament Vanessa Kissoon said that food distribution is ongoing, but that the demand is more than the supply.
She however posited that hampers would be available for shut-ins, while Pastor Sills added that efforts would be made to ‘zone’ the food distribution.
He acknowledged that churches have pooled their resources and have been distributing the food items, but that there is a process involved.
Linden has virtually ground to a standstill ever since the protest action against increased electricity tariffs commenced on July 18th.
What had initially started out as a five day protest has now gone into its third week.
Several roadblocks have been placed at strategic points, across the Town, effectively blocking the free flow of traffic both within town, and to outlying districts, since the protest stated.
Three Lindeners, Shemroy Boyea, Ron Summerset and Allan Lewis were shot dead, by police at the Mackenzie/ Wismar Bridge on the first day of the protest, and the Linmine Secretariat building was burnt to the ground. These events further escalated the protest action. Lindeners are adamant that it was the ‘uncalled for’ violence by the police that further exacerbated the situation.