May 21, 2016 News
As President David Granger entered the tent at the unveiling of the 50th Independence Arch, cheers rose from the small gathering of bystanders.
The official unveiling of the Independence Arch at the Agricola/Eccles boundary, was opened with the National Anthem played by the National Steel Pan Orchestra; this was followed by a prayer and the National Pledge.
Banks DIH donated the arch to Guyana.
Chairman of Banks DIH Ltd, Clifford Reis, stated that since Guyana’s Independence in 1966, Banks DIH has held the role of big brother to the citizens.
He noted that to the younger citizens, the 50th Independence Arch should show that the door of opportunity is always open to them.
He extended his thanks and appreciation on behalf of Banks DIH, to the President and the government for the opportunity of being part of Guyana’s 50th Independence celebrations, he also thanked the Ministry of Infrastructure for the assistance in the design and putting together of the Independence Arch.
He officially presented the Arch to Guyana in honor of the country’s 50th Independence Anniversary.
The Minister within the Ministry of Education, Mrs. Nicolette Henry, extended congratulations to all Guyanese, and noted that everyone should feel a sense of “personal pride” on this the 50th Independence Anniversary, that Guyana has come a long way since the Golden Arrowhead was first hoisted in 1966.
“It is important to acknowledge all who has contributed to this success, we must focus on the coming fifty years,” she maintained.
On hand to also address the occasion was Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson. “In May 1966, our country achieved independence after a century and a half of British rule. In that same month, an Independence Arch was erected at Ruimveldt as a reminder of the great feat that had been accomplished.”
“Fifty years later, another Independence Arch is being erected and its official opening is momentous.”
“It is not every year that a nation celebrates its fiftieth anniversary and something spectacular had to be done to mark this occasion. The Ministry of Public Infrastructure therefore hosted a consultation meeting earlier this year with relevant stakeholders, including the Mayor and City Council and the National Trust of Guyana, to discuss projects that could be embarked upon to commemorate our Golden Jubilee. It was during this meeting that the Independence Arch project was conceptualized.”
Patterson said that the original plan was to reinstall the original Arch that was removed to “facilitate the expansion of the East Bank Demerara road in 2004.” He said however that the original arch was never found.
“Therefore, the next step was to create a completely new arch and, thanks to the wonderful generosity of Banks DIH Limited, this project received financing.”
Minister Patterson added, “For those questioning the purpose of this new arch, I will assure you that it is a practical one. This City Entrance Arch at Agricola identifies the southern boundary of Georgetown.
“We thought that it was fitting to let the public know just when they are entering the famous Garden City.’’
“Though it is not on the original site, this arch commemorates the same values that those men and women before us had celebrated: perseverance, hard work, and a bright future, and it is important that our people are reminded of what many fought and died for 50 years ago.”
He added that the construction of a second Arch is earmarked to pinpoint the Southern Boundary of Georgetown; he then went on to thank the members of the Ministry’s Work Services Group (WSG), Errol Cush Construction and the Dutch company VHS United, for fabricating and constructing what he called a “beautiful structure.”
“Our country’s thanks cannot be understated. Today, I urge everyone here and everyone else who will see this monument to remember all our country has accomplished in its fifty years.”
President Granger, who delivered the keynote address, gave a brief history of the city. Georgetown was named by the British after the then English Regent Prince George who went on to rule as King George IV. He stated that it was the English that united the three counties of Demerara, Essequibo and Berbice to form British Guiana.
His Excellency noted that more importantly Georgetown is “today becoming a clean city, a green city and a serene and safe city once again.” He noted that sanitation and cleaning of drains around Georgetown are top priority to reduce the risk of air borne vector diseases like Malaria, Chikungunya, and Filaria.
“Every visitor, every vendor, every taxi driver, every shopkeeper and every citizen must share the responsibility to keep this city clean and sanitary.”
He said that Georgetown must once again become a “safe city, citizens should not have to shut themselves in their homes on weekends, afraid to venture forth because of unlit streets.”
He pointed out that “safety and security are essential to enjoying the good life.”
President Granger continued that Georgetown must be “an ordered city,” he also indicated that Georgetown is an important asset to Guyana.
“Our capital city was mired in political mud for nearly twenty years,” he continued; “Our city must never suffer such neglect again, no matter which party is in office again.”
Speaking about the 50th Independence Arch he noted, “This arch serves as a prominent landmark illuminating the southern entrance, into and out of our national capital.”
He added that the arch was not unique as citizens built several arches across the country to celebrate independence in 1966. Agricola, Corentyne, Bartica, Bagotville, Leonora, New Amsterdam, Lusignan, Ruimveldt and a few other places were listed by the President as having arches in those days.
President Granger closed by quoting from the Bible stating that “a city should be built with the bricks of peace and bounded with the mortar of prosperity.”
He thanked Banks DIH, the Ministry of Public Infrastructure and the Ministry of Education.
“I take great pleasure now, in inaugurating Guyana’s 50th Anniversary Independence Arch and I thank you all for it.”
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