October 1, 2016

Vriesland residents feel disenfranchised

– Chairman says NDC-inclusion decision rests with Bulkan’s Ministry

Following the recent complaints by a large number of residents of Vriesland, West Bank Demerara, over being disallowed voting in Friday’s Local Government Elections (LGE), Regional Chairman of Region Three (Essequibo Islands/West Demerara) Juluis Faerber told Guyana Times on Monday that while the area is “already regularised”, the decision to include Vriesland and other communities in the Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) system rests with the Communities Ministry.
“Vriesland was regularised a long time ago… they have their titles and so on… you have to write the honourable Minister of Communities to ask him to include those areas under the Toevlugt-Patentia [NDC],” Faerber explained.   At post-elections media conference Saturday, Minister of Communities Ronald Bulkan observed that several communities, including many on the Linden-Soesdyke Highway will in fact be included in the NDC system. Guyana Times reported on March 20 that many residents in Vriesland expressed disappointment in not being able to exercise their franchise. It was also explained that residents in communities such as Free and Easy, Vive le Force and Reynstein were all disallowed voting.
Speaking with this newspaper on Saturday, a resident, Data – only name given – 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.
A fish vendor related that many residents wanted to vote as representatives could have advocated for their needs.
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 had stated that she has 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 and 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 gat time because nobody not give me anything if me nah wuk,” expressed that vendor. Vriesland is situated some 14 kilometres from Vreed-en-Hoop, WCD.

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