They used shovels and spades and in several Amerindian villages of Region Eight, it was the women and children that did the work.
It took six years, but the hard work paid off. Now Region Eight (Potaro/Siparuni), has roads existing where there were once many trails. One road now joins the Lethem highway.
On Thursday, the government recognised the work of 18 Amerindian villages of Regions Eight and Nine in helping to build the road. It handed over 18 tractors and trailers that will not only be able to assist in more road building, but will help in transportation of produce.
Thirteen of the tractors and trailers will be going to Region Eight alone.
The 35-horsepower tractors, valued at $2.5M each, come with a dumper trailer, a plough and a box scraper- helpful in road building.
The $54M initiative which will see hinterland communities further enhanced, is part of Government’s hinterland road programme. The programme encourages the further development of agriculture and improved livelihood programmes.
The Region Eight villages that will benefit are Monkey Mountain, Taruka, Tuseneng, Bamboo Creek, Chiung Mouth, Itabac, Kanapang and Waipa. For Region Nine, Tiger Pond, Karasabai, Tiperu, Rukumuto and Yurong Paru are the beneficiaries.
The handing over ceremony at Farm Supplies, McDoom, East Bank Demerara, was attended by Prime Minister, Sam Hinds; Minister of Public Works, Robeson Benn; Minister of Local Government, Kellawan Lall; former Minister Harripersaud Nokta, and several Permanent Secretaries.
According to the officials, the tractors will all be driven in a convoy to the communities and a committee will be established to manage the equipment and proceeds that may come.
Region Eight Chairman, Senor Bell, disclosed that over the years, in that area alone, 287 miles of roads were built by hand by villagers. Overtime, the trucks did their damage and the regional administration appealed to government for help.
“These tractors are a blessing in disguise for the communities. They will definitely boost the agricultural drive and also reduce cost of goods into the area.”
Benn said that the initiative which will also aid the transport link in the Regions is an initiative of President Bharrat Jagdeo, who allocated huge sums towards the interior road development.
The Works Ministry had allocated in excess of $230M for road works and the procurement of equipment, and according to Minister Benn, it is his expectation that by September there will be an improvement in the Regions.
“The advancement of road works and equipment will be important for improved development in the communities,” he said.
“Our interest beyond the overall development issues in the communities is that the equipment is well used and maintained, but fundamentally if we build roads it should be the stimulus to development that we can realise the dream and aspirations, advanced too by (former) Minister Nokta,” he said.
Minister Lall warned that the villages should take care of the equipment and urged that the philosophy of the work done by the women and men of the Amerindian communities be passed on to others.
Prime Minister Hinds, who is performing the duties of the President, also paid tribute to the women and children who helped significantly to build the roads. It was not easy, he said, but the villagers persisted although rains and other factors proved to be a challenge.
It was such a successful self-help drive that in 2003, Guyana was able to host the Pakaraima Trail Safari along the same roads.
The tractors and trailers are but “a reward for their earlier work,” the Prime Minister said.
Nokta, who was hailed in highly instrumental in developing some of the roads linking the Amerindian villages of Region Eight to Lethem, recalled the problems of roads in the region earlier this decade.
In one instance, to send a tractor to the region, it had to be shipped to Brazil and then a road had to be cut to take it to the village.
He too hailed the villagers as “man-dozers” and “woman-dozers”.
Each village also is provided with $500,000 for the cost of fuel and maintenance for about the first six months.
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