September 25, 2016

Vriesland residents call for regularisation

– Many wanted to vote in Friday’s LGE

By Shemuel Fanfair

Despite the low voter turnout at Friday’s Local Government Elections (LGE), many residents in the community of Vriesland, West Bank Demerara expressed disappointment in not being able to exercise their franchise. This is a result of the area not being part of any Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) and as such was ineligible to be contested by constituency candidates.
It was also explained that residents in communities beyond Patentia were also disallowed from voting. Some of these areas are said to be Free and Easy, Vive le Force and
Speaking with Guyana Times on Saturday, a resident, Data – only given name – related that she has been living in the area for over 30 years and thus wanted to cast her ballot.
“Dem seh you nah pay tax and if you nah pay rates and [taxes] you can’t vote,” Data opined.
One fish vendor related that many residents wanted to vote as representatives could have advocated for their needs.
“Me glad if betterment could come,” stated the woman.
Another resident posited that even though these were not the ‘big elections’, she still would have appreciated if her fellow community members could cast their ballot.
Roshini Mohan expressed great frustration at the fact that Vriesland is not yet regularised. She opined that residents have “no rights and access” to services.
“Fo you come and vote fo your right you can’t do it; that ah you legal and democratic right,” stressed Mohan. She explained that she resided in the area over 30 years while her husband lived there for “over 40 years”.
She further related that some residents had attempted to establish the area as an NDC, through advocacy.
“Dem boy done form a NDC group, done get de stamp, only fo de people come and regularise this place,” Mohan posited.
She further noted by not paying rates and taxes, only the residents stand to lose.
On the other hand fellow resident and vendor, Shivanie Persaud who sells at Patentia market said she is too busy to be bothered by the local polls. “Me nah got time because nobody not give me anything if me nah wuk,” expressed the vendor.
Vriesland is situated some 14 kilometres from Vreed-en-Hoop. The majority of residents are currently employed with Wales Sugar Estate which is slated for closure by yearend.

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