Oct 05, 2014 News
– Local Minister meets with NDC
Following days of protest action by residents of Plaisance, Minister of Local Government and Regional Development,
Norman Whittaker, met with Councilors of the Industry/Plaisance Interim Management Committee (IMC) to discuss the issues relating to the protest action by residents of the Industry/Plaisance Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC).
On Thursday, about 35 villagers stood outside the NDC office at Plaisance, East Coast Demerara, (ECD) with placards, some of which read “We are up against unusual situations but we will not give up”, “The will of the people will remain strong”, “We need development in our community, not imposition,” and “Our ancestors have laid the foundation. We deserve our inheritance.”
The villagers voiced their disapproval over what they claim is a ‘takeover of inherited land by the government, which will sooner or later be gifted to foreign investors.
The residents believe that the lands of Plaisance village which were bought by freed slaves and used to promote the economic sustainability of its residents for years are now under threat.
According to the residents, when the village was bought, the contract agreement was that the populace would occupy the northern half of the land while the southern part, the back lands, would be used for economic activities.
However, this age-old agreement, the residents believe, seems to have been disregarded. They are of the firm opinion that the government may just be up to “something that may result in benefitting only a selected few”.
The police had allegedly made it clear to the residents that they would no longer be allowed to access the lands passed on to them by their ancestors.
Minister Whittaker subsequently held a meeting with the NDC councillors to address two main issues affecting the communities: that of land issue in Plaisance Backlands (being given to private developers) and the appointment of the Overseer.
In response to the Land Issue matter, Minister Whittaker said, “This issue does not fall under the purview of Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development. The protestors are ill-informed; the lands in question fall under the Guyana Sugar Co-operation (GUYSUCO).”
The residents were peeved at the appointment of Orlando Jardine as Overseer of the Industry/Plaisance NDC.
As it relates to matters concerning the appointment of the overseer, Minister Whittaker said that the Ministry advertised the vacancy for an Overseer in all the newspapers for several days.
“The recruitment process was in keeping with the Ministry’s hiring protocol. All of Guyana, including eligible persons from the Industry/Plaisance communities, had the opportunity to apply for the position.”
According to the Minister, at the closing date, eight applicants including Plaisance representative, Ms. Deborah Mc Dowell, applied for the position but only five met the requirements and were shortlisted. The Ministry went on to say that even though Mc Dowell is a dedicated worker, she did not meet all of the requirements.
“As part of its procedure, an interviewing panel comprising representatives from the RDC, NDC and the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development interviewed the applicants. Of the five persons who were shortlisted, only two showed up for the interview; one of them was Orlando Jardine.”
Minister Norman Whittaker is calling on the residents to bring an end to the protests and is calling for peace and calm to be restored in the community.
The Minister assures residents that the Government of Guyana is not trying to take away anything from them nor does he have any personal vendetta against Ms. Deborah Mc Dowell.
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