The Indigenous People’s Affairs Ministry on Friday confirmed that Toshao Paul Chekema and his team of 35
The recently completed Umana Yana
workmen were paid for the completion of the reconstructed Umana Yana historical building. This revelation followed the complaints from the indigenous workmen who stated that they did not receive payments despite executing the project way ahead of schedule.
According to a release by the Ministry, the men were “… paid in full the contract sum for the works done”. It was explained that the men benefited from a total of GY$30,539,138 of which GY$14,175,000 was paid in “earnings from direct labour” while the remaining sum related to material supplied and other logistical cost consideration.
It was posited that the remaining works on Guyana’s largest benab will resume on Monday, March 14 and is expected to be completed by April 30. The works that remain include completion of the wall, fence, floor, stage and the electrification of the facility. There was no word on the installation of solar panels as promised by Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson who posited this measure at the turning of the sod in September 2015.
The Ministry lambasted “wicked elements” which it said attempted to “create an environment of mistrust between it and the builders” but noted that these efforts were wasted since the Ministry has forged “excellent relations” with the Indigenous peoples.
“No attempt to politicise, manipulate or misrepresent the innocuous and sincere statements made in good faith by our Wai Wai brothers, or any indigenous group for that matter will succeed,” stated the Ministry.
The Ministry also sought to accuse the political Opposition of “having failed our Indigenous peoples while in Government, and of trying to derail the current Government’s “developmental agenda.”
The project which commenced on February 5 was completed on March 7, well ahead of schedule. On Thursday, it was related that workmen were reportedly told that they should go home to their villages and return afterwards when the time is ready for them to receive payments.
Workers were against this proposal, with many citing the cost factor to travel to and from their communities.
In September 2014, the fire which destroyed the landmark was believed to be electrical in origin. The Umana Yana, an Amerindian term that means “meeting place” was first built in 1972 for the Non-Aligned Foreign Ministers Conference and was later used as a VIP Lounge and for exhibitions and recreational purposes.