Aug 18, 2012 News
Region 10 Chairman Sharma Solomon last night expressed optimism that a solution to the one-month Linden crisis is in sight, following a meeting yesterday at the Office of the President between Government officials and a delegation from Region Ten.
Solomon disclosed that the two sides formulated a document which addresses the key grouses of the citizens of Linden, such as the hiking of the electricity rates, lack of economic investments, and the absence of an independently-owned television station.
However, he also explained that the team representing Region Ten had only initialed the document, since a lot depends on the resolving of issues such as the Commission of Inquiry into the July 18 killing and injury of protesters.
“What we came away with from the Office of the President was the embracing of a position that is reflective of the will and wishes of the people of Linden and Region 10,” Solomon told Kaieteur News.
“We haven’t signed the agreement; we initialed it. Tomorrow (today) we want to go to the one-month anniversary meeting to say to the people that their struggles were not in vain; the struggles and sacrifices they made resulted in them acquiring the things that were denied to them for quite some time; which include the TV station and the Land Selection Committee.”
“After consultation with the principal stakeholders, who are the residents, we are satisfied that once these things will have been dealt with to their satisfaction, they themselves will come off the streets.
“To say that I am happy… I will not use that word, for the reason that we still have three men who lost their lives; we still have many traumatised residents in our community, we still have a lot of injured, and what I will say is that I am satisfied that the struggle and sacrifices made by the people were not in vain.”
“We remain concerned that we would like to see the demilitarization of the community.”
A Government Information Agency (GINA) statement said that the agreement was initialled by Solomon, Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, Public Works Minister Robeson Benn, Head of the Presidential Secretariat Dr. Roger Luncheon and Teixeira, APNU MP Vanessa Kissoon, Vice Chairman of APNU Rupert Roopnaraine and Aubrey Norton.
One major breakthrough was the agreement that the electricity tariffs in Linden will remain at the pre-July 1st 2012 rates and that the implementation of a future tariff regime in Linden will await due consideration of the findings and recommendations of a Technical Team.
Kaieteur News understands that the Technical Team will review the existing provision and consumption of electricity in the community, including the history, the costs, the tariff structure, and the subsidies; consider arrangements to provide electricity to the Linden community and tariffs to sustain such arrangements within a sustainable time frame; examine Region Ten’s economic circumstances, inclusive of the affordability of increased cost and also consider the advantages and disadvantages of the integration of the supply of electricity in the Linden area into the national grid.
The technical team will also examine and make recommendations on cost saving measures and options for alternative energy.
The parties also agreed to licencing of a television station in the bauxite mining community, the setting up of a land selection committee, as well as what Solomon described as “a very detailed economic programme that will assess and analyse how to allow the region to economically advance and economically empower the residents of the region.”
Solomon said that the parties also agreed to have short term economic projects which will be channeled through the Head of the Presidential Secretariat.
GINA quoted Presidential Advisor on Governance Gail Teixeira as saying that Government will hand over the dish and the transmitter to Region 10, as agreed upon in Linden when President Donald Ramotar met with Lindeners.
“As far as the government is concerned…we have reached agreement to the point of which government initialled it…we feel that today, a benchmark has been reached in terms of the amount of work that has gone on between the two sides…we anticipate that they will be in good faith and return to normalcy,” Teixeira said.
Solomon also said that there has been progress with the Terms of Reference for the Commission of Inquiry into the events of July 18.
“We know that there are just a few differences between the Government and the Opposition and we hope that this is resolved before the final signing occurs.”
The Regional Chairman stressed that one of the Terms of Reference in the Commission of Inquiry deals with compensation for the families of the dead and injured, “because we feel that the families of the injured and those who were murdered must be compensated.”
Meanwhile, he also expressed dissatisfaction with the sloth of the police investigation into the tragedy.
“I am concerned; very concerned that approximately one month after those innocent protesters, who did not threaten life, limb or property, were murdered, no one has been charged, no one has been identified for any disciplinary action for what took place on the 18th of July.
“I am very disappointed and disturbed; though I believe that the Commission of Inquiry will, based on the Terms Of Reference, provide a lot of the answers to the questions that are being asked.”
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