Sep 07, 2015 News
– Residents welcome new Government
Preparations are in full swing to transform Mahdia, a hinterland mining community located in Region Eight, into a town. Government is currently conducting consultations with stakeholders and examining different areas that need development.
On Saturday, a team comprising Ministers of Communities and Public Infrastructure, Ronald Bulkan and David Patterson respectively, APNU+AFC Parliamentarian Gloria Bancroft and engineers of the two Ministries visited the community.
During an interactive meeting with residents and Regional Officials including Regional Chairman Bonaventure Fredericks at the Mahdia Community Centre, the Ministers reaffirmed Government’s commitment of developing Mahdia. All developmental works that would be executed in the community would be done in consultation with the RDC.
The fresh approach
The APNU+AFC Coalition Government has resuscitated good governance in Region Eight with the restoration of respect for the Offices of the Regional Chairman and other elected officials. Minister Bulkan was firm that the Regional Executive Officer is not the head of the Region but a public servant, who is there to serve the RDC.
He emphasized that Guyana’s Constitution provides for 81 Local Governments, but were in breach for many years. One example is, in 2011 when the then government did not win Region Eight at the General and Regional Elections the government appointed REO on many occasions did not cooperate with the RDC.
The Minister emphasized that this fresh approach is a fulfillment of one of Government’s many promises of transforming Guyana when it was in the Opposition benches in the Tenth Parliament and on the 2015 General and Regional campaign trail.
According to the Regional Chairman, Bonaventure Fredericks, the walk to developing Mahdia and the entire Region would not be an easy task unless everyone works together. He related that the REO has been co-operative.
Residents expressed their satisfaction that there is new Government with a resounding warm welcome. While the residents are cognizant that the ANPU+AFC Coalition Government is now implementing its policies and programmes they are dissatisfied that many seemingly corrupt officers are still working in the Region.
The residents, who were extremely vocal, identified several persons who they believe are corrupt and should be fired, if indeed this new Government would tackle corruption and give citizens the good life.
Minister Patterson is of the view that those public officers who serve in a district for a number of years should be rotated.
The transformation of Mahdia into a town would require significant infrastructure development. Minister Patterson announced that Government will be paving all internal roads in Mahdia and the road leading from the airstrip to the community. Additionally, consideration is being made to pave the airstrip.
This revelation was greeted with loud applause from the residents, who complained about the deplorable roads for a number of years. However, a resident pointed out that Government needs to fix the water network before it could pave the roads.
Minister Patterson agreed with that suggestion and pointed out that fixing Mahdia and surrounding communities’ water woes is a priority that is currently being examined.
Prior to attending the meeting, the Ministers, engineers, Fredericks and the REO visited the Salbora Creek, which is the main source of water supply in the area. The team also inspected the distribution pipelines leading from the creek to Mahdia to ascertain why the community is constantly faced with low water pressure. It was observed that there are several leakages, illegal connections and silt in the pipelines.
To ensure that quality infrastructural upgrading works will be executed, the Ministry of Public Infrastructure would be stationing two of its engineers in the Region. In fact, this would be the case for every Region across Guyana. This announcement was also met with appreciation by the people.
Mining is the major economic activity in Mahdia and is regarded as the backbone of the community. However, miners are faced with many challenges and are asking for Government’s swift intervention. Residents explained that the former administration has left a gap in the mining sector for corruption to fester.
Offering an example of one of their many challenges a resident said, “Let’s just say a man own a claim in the 1980s and some persons get permission from him to bore a hole as soon as that happen a man come and say he own the bloc in 1999. Now, how can a man own something that another man already own since in the 80s?”
Another challenge in the mining sector is access to lands. According to a resident, the current system that is being utilized by the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission is not designed for the poor man or small miner.
The resident pointed out that he had gotten a block a year or so ago from GGMC to mine. However, he had difficulty in locating the block which forced him to return the block to the Commission. Subsequently, a big businessman was given the same block by GGMC and was able to locate same.
Mahdia Power and Light
Residents are not taking lightly the fact that they are paying the highest per kilowatt in the country. Having noted the concerns of the residents, Minister Patterson said that the Government will be working with the power company to see how residents could get a better supply of electricity at a lower cost.
Minister Bulkan pointed out that the Tumatumari hydro power plant is being rehabilitated by a private company and when completed residents would be able to access electricity for half the current price being paid.
Residents are calling for the equitable distribution of resources in the education system in Region Eight. They believe that the former government deliberately sidelined the delivery of quality education in Mahdia and neighbouring communities to benefit other communities.
However, they are demanding that this Government provide the necessary resources including qualified trained teachers in the school system. They are disheartened that Mahdia Primary School was unable to produce students with high scores in the National Grade Six Assessment.
Minister Bulkan informed residents that efforts will be made to complete infrastructure development of the housing scheme. The housing scheme was established under the former government but little efforts were made to do any infrastructural works that would enable persons to build their houses.
A resident highlighted that Mahdia needs to move away from leasing lands to land ownership. The man emphasized that if a commercial bank were to come into Mahdia it is unlikely that that company would want to lease the land.
The Ministers assured that with Government’s policy of inclusive democracy and being a Government for all Guyanese, Mahdia will be transformed.They assured the residents that all matters and complaints raised at the meeting would be related to the subject Minister and Ministry for action.It will take time but the RDC will be involved and responsible for its development, Minister Bulkan said.
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