May 28, 2016

We need to restore order to the City

Dear Editor,

In the press recently there have been reports that Guyanese nationals residing in the United States who plan to travel home for the celebration of the nation’s Golden Jubilee of Independence in May 2016 are expressing concerns about crime here.

The reports go on to say that over twenty-five thousand nationals from the US alone, plan to travel home around the period of the Jubilee celebrations, but that media reports create the perception that crime is pervasive and unrestrained in Guyana.

It is clear that the Guyana Police Force and the Georgetown City Police Department have their work cut out for them, not only beefing up their presence around the hotels nightclubs, shopping district, other entertainment venues, famous landmarks and popular watering holes, but with the bed and breakfast programme these visitors will also be residing in the suburban residential areas which will need added protection. One bad experience can put a damper on the entire celebration.

But, just as importantly there is a lot to be desired of the Georgetown City Council as they fail to prepare to receive these visitors, including eradicating the mosquito infestation in the city as the month of May the weather will be wetter and hotter than usual in our tropical city, providing a more hospitable climate for the mosquito.

There is need for some control to be exercised over the chaotic minibus and public transportation situation in the city, where touts will be harassing potential passengers pulling and tugging at them every which way.

Will these visitors be confronted with roadside barbers, manicurists and pedicurists? With roadside food vendors who are not being regulated or certified as food handlers? Will they be bombarded by these music carts booming pirated CD’s? And just as importantly will they encounter the omnipresence of junkies, beggars and pavement dwellers?  I hope something can be done in time for our 50th.

And what is being done about the cattle and other stray animals? Will the visitors have to encounter and navigate around them? There persons are not accustomed to meandering around animals in the city. Will there be three card trick men on the pavement waiting to cheat them out of their money?

The question is will City Hall get their act together in time for the Golden Jubilee?

Yours

Nadine Jerrick

Enhance security for jubilee celebrations

Dear Editor,

Guyanese nationals residing in the United States who plan to travel home for the celebration of our nation’s Golden Jubilee of

Independence in May 2016 have been calling our Committee to express concern about the crime situation. This angst derives from the daily deluge of news stories on violent crimes in Guyana; particularly robberies, felonious assaults and homicides.

Over 24,000 nationals from the US alone, plan to travel home around the period of the Jubilee celebrations. This will be a tremendous economic boost. However, media reports create the perception that crime is pervasive and unrestrained. This is engendering fear and deterring travel to Guyana.

The Committee is aware of efforts by government to combat crime. We have noted that to date effective crime fighting strategies have been implemented yielding significant results. Consequently, crime is on the decline. However, this information is not filtering out to the Diaspora.

The Committee is therefore urging government to disseminate information on its successes in crime fighting and prevention. The government should also swiftly adumbrate intended measures to assure public safety during Jubilee celebrations. This would guarantee overseas nationals that the government is seriously addressing the issue and that Guyana is safe to visit.

Moreover, we recommend that Overseas Missions be equipped to disseminate this information.

Regards,

New York

50th Committee

Judah Kenyon rules roost at 2016 Rupununi Rodeo

Dear Editor,                                                                                       

Judah Kenyon has emerged King of the just concluded 2016 Rupununi Rodeo when the curtain came down on an eventful two days of action Sunday evening at the Rupununi Ranchers Rodeo Ground in Lethem, Region Nine 9 (Upper TAKATU/Upper Essequibo).

King Kenyon grabbed the most coveted crown after carting off four of the evening top prizes up for grabs.

Among the other winners were Point Ranches Bull Riding champion Eon Jacobus, Bareback Bronco Corine Peters, Wild Cow Milking Paul St Hill, Steer Roping Nicodemas from Dadanawa Ranch, Calf Roping Odis Peters, Best Dressed male Vaqueros Antonio Andrews and Best dressed female Vaqueros Alice Atkinson.

The events which for the most part were held under floodlights saw the thousands in attendance given their money’s worth with the chills and thrills organisers had promised as they took fans on the “The Wild Side.”

The two days of activities began immediately following a spectacle through the streets of Lethem when vaqueros were all decked out in their cowboy and cowgirl attire carrying flags, with Vice President and Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Sydney Allicock leading the parade and proudly displaying a flag with Guyana’s 50th Anniversary Logo.

The ride begun at the Lethem Airstrip and concluded at the Rodeo Ground.

Meanwhile, job creation, participation in activities that boosts economic development and recognising the unwavering commitment by ranchers and vaquero’s alike were the sentiments expressed by Minister Allicock when he declared the event opened Saturday afternoon.

He added that his ministry is committed to working with organisers to ensure the annual activity continues to be a success story, and was inspired and has pledged a personal donation of $100,000 towards the hosting the 2017 Rodeo activities.

Minister Allicock also handed over a cheque to the Rupununi Livestock Producers Association (RLPA) in to boost the local cattle industry, thus making it more viable.

He said the support is necessary since for too long workers in the cattle industry were not given the much needed recognition for their contributions and were unable to enjoy the celebration after hard work.

Regional Chairman Brian Allicock in welcoming everyone who came out to support this year’s activity, commended organisers for putting together such a well-planned and eventful weekend of action.

He added that such an activity once successfully hosted augers well for any economy given the fact that support is not only forthcoming from Guyana alone but internationally as well.

Among other dignitaries in attendance was Minister within the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Valerie Garrido-Lowe who successfully completed the most adventurous 2016 Pakaraimas Mountain Safari.

Among the days added attractions was a ten-man military display by members of the Harpy Eagle Parachute Club.

The paratroopers were led by Veteran Jumper Lieutenant Lloyd Souvenir, with the youngest Paratrooper being Sergeant Chris Corbin, 27, who has been in the business for almost ten years.

Two of the jumpers proudly landed to safety as they carried the Golden Arrow Head after which there was a military display as one flag was handed over to the Indigenous Affairs Minister.

Also witnessing the handing over were Minister Valerie Garrido-Lowe and Ministerial Advisor Mervin Williams.

Meanwhile, the Ministry’s Golden Jubilee Minitotem Pole was also on display at the activity and those in attendance were given the opportunity to view this creative piece of art carved by artist Foster Simon of Saint Cuthberts Mission.

The Totem Pole which is deemed a symbol of Guyanese Unity came to being after consultations with representatives from the ten administrative regions, local artist and staff, where the spirit of the Makonaima was used as the overarching concept.

Makonaima is believed to be the creator of life and the Great spirit which sustains life, the spirit from which things emanate according to Indigenous beliefs.

Regards,

Rodeo Committee

 

The Bourda Cemetery needs urgent work

Dear Editor,

Though I cannot be considered a taphonomist by any stretch of the imagination, I have always had an abiding interest in the Bourda Cemetery which is an eighteenth-century graveyard formerly known as “Bourda’s Walk”, and which is the oldest cemetery in Georgetown, the only surviving plantation cemetery in the city, and therefore a facility that must be considered a national landmark and treated accordingly.

I would wish to give some applause to City Hall for weeding and clearing this cemetery and for painting the fence. That cemetery was in a deplorable state for many years which is a statement of what the surrounding community values.

However this is merely the beginning and therefore it’s my hope the Council does not think that weeding and painting the fence was all that was necessary at this graveyard and therefore it is mission accomplished.

Cemeteries all over the world lure visitors with a combination of natural beauty, ornate tombstones and crypts, notable residents, and vivid history. Bourda should be no different.

Many prominent people from Guyana’s colonial era are buried in Bourda cemetery, including William Booker, John Croal (the first Mayor of Georgetown), John Patoir and Peter Rose.

However the current condition of the tombs there can only be described as shocking and appalling. Most if not all are desecrated to the point that they are broken into pieces whilst some are a mere pile of loose bricks.

This is due to the gratuitous and purposeless destruction by vandals over the years aided by the humid tropical climate and an army of variegated insects.

To add insult to injury, there have been several attempts to obliterate this facility over the years, including proposals to embark on the construction of a road through this cemetery, the use of the site for housing vendors, for building a shopping mall there and even a garden.

Hopefully this municipal administration does not get any ideas of converting it into another money making venture as they seem less concerned about heritage and more about making a dollar.

Notwithstanding the aforementioned however, there is an injunction in place that was granted by the court, and the other fact is that the Mayor and City Council does not own this particular burial ground, but under the statutes it only has custodial responsibilities in relation to it.

In the interest of preserving the capital’s patrimony nevertheless I would like to suggest that the Council does two things. One immediately hold public consultations and discussions to glean from the citizens their views on how the facility should be preserved moving forward, and two commence rehabilitating the space in a way which retains its original purpose, and at the same time provides a pleasant environment and historical information  for citizens, children and tourists alike.

Sincerely,

Riley Matthews

Why is City Hall making the City more congested?

Dear Editor,

For as long as I can remember, the shoulder of Orange Walk east of the Bourda Market and close to Regent Street, was always kept for parking to facilitate shopping in that facility but more importantly it was used by the stall holders to offload their goods particularly meat. And this was before we had a fraction of the vehicular traffic that we have now fighting for the same very limited space.

Regrettably, the current administration of the Council, in their voracity for money, has completely ignored the need by the stallholders and the need by shoppers to park their vehicles at a reasonable and safe distance from the market and has decided to erect a mini shopping mall in this area, on the shoulder of the road and has given the spaces out to their friends without any public consultation or offer of the spaces to interested individuals.

Why this has been allowed by the Central Housing and Planning Authority, the Guyana Police Force and the Guyana Fire Service one would never know, but this is another unwise decision by the Council that is based on corruption, favouritism and profiteering.

The Government of Guyana should take a look at this poor decision that is further congesting our capital and have it broken down the same way City Hall breaks down unauthorised buildings in the city,

Regards,

Mark Roopan

These forensic audits

Dear Editor,

I have been seeing the numerous reports in the Media about these forensic audits that were commissioned by the APNU/AFC government.  What have appeared thus far, point to findings that are highly questionable and more akin to a motive of causing public embarrassment rather than professionals doing their work within the code of conduct of their profession.

I have mentioned before that Accountants are governed by a Law and there is code of conduct that these legally approved professionals abide by. Leaks and public disclosures are not part of the code.

The right of taking into account the response of those persons in the entities being investigated is sacrosanct and certainly the principle of Natural Justice dictates that persons who are accused be given the right to reply.

Hot on the heels of (never legally registered) Anand Goolsarran’s

prejudiced findings, come those of Nigel Hinds who makes a lot of noise about the tendering process and competitive bidding yet he accepts forensic audits which were never tendered, but assigned by his friends in the APNU/AFC government. Talk about double standards, wow.

What a shame on President Granger, his Cabinet and his Government that the high standards of principles in government that they preached during the campaign, have been tossed out the window.

President Granger and his opposition colleagues in the last Parliament passed many resolutions with their one-seat majority and they extolled, expounded and exacted about the sanctity of the National Assembly, and the will of the representatives of the people.

There is a sacred process of dealing with Audits of the State’s resources in our country and that is via the Public Accounts Committee.

Here when the Auditor General presents his report, the leaders of the accounting units that are reported on by the AG, they get the chance of confronting their accuser in the highest forum of the land.  The Auditor General is never the investigator and the judge.

A Committee comprising representatives from Government and Opposition gives the person(s) a hearing with respect to the findings and opinions of the Auditor General.

These forensic audits are plastered about in the public via carefully orchestrated leaks and leakage of findings that are contentious. For what purpose?  Witch-hunting? Settling scores? Political optics?

President Granger should send these forensic audits to the

Parliament – the Public Accounts Committee. Give those who have been accused of wrong doings the opportunity to answer to the highest forum of the land.

The auditors and authors of these forensic reports will have their chance of defending their conclusions and findings. Let the PAC give its recommendation. This is democracy; this is decency; this is the principle you publicly preached, President, since you became a politician.

Editor, thanks for your kind consideration in publishing my views.

Sincerely,

Manzoor Nadir

How much taxpayers’ $$ sent to New York for independence wine-up?

Dear Editor,
Reference is to the letter  in SN of 3-24-16 titled “Granger to attend NY Jubilee dinner in June”
Can anyone credibly confirm or explain how much Guyanese taxpayers money is being spent to fund this New York jump-up and wine-down for Independence?
Initial reports says it was US$300. This includes a symposium which features Dr David Hinds as a panellist and reportedly a Marlyanne Narayan who has no known political visibility.
They will reportedly be speaking on National identity. Both are non-resident Guyanese living in the US. How does their NY symposium impact us here in Guyana? Is it to be streamed live on the internet for all to see in Guyana?
Clarification is requested whether the Guyanese taxpayers’ money was sent directly to the committee headed by long-standing PNC strongman Rickford Burke? Are all the members of the committee paid employees? If not all how many and who? The committee has a lawyer. Is he being paid?
Which government agency is disbursing the taxpayers’ money if it was not sent directly to the committee? What accountability measures are in place to safeguard from corruption and waste?
With Guyanese losing their jobs; why is the Guyana Government funding an overseas bash when it will not be multi-ethnic in attendance anyway? Shouldn’t that money have been used here locally?
Answers or clarifications would be most welcome from government sources not the New York committee recipients.

Regards,
Sultan Mohamed

Political discrimination and executive bullyism

Dear Editor,
If anyone needs to be convinced of the road the APNU/AFC is taking this country, then an event that occurred last week should clarify this matter.
It is very clear that this regime is the continuation of the PNC government of the 1970s and ’80s. Their methods of governance are vindictive, at which racial and political discrimination is at its heart.
In the main newspapers last week, there was a notice informing the public that the President had signed an order revoking lands from scores of farmers (small farmers at that). These lands were awarded by the MMM/ADA to small-scale farmers who owned no farming land.
These lands were under the control of a co-op society. Like most co-ops in the country, it was transformed from a ‘co-op’ to a de facto, privately-owned entity.
Four or more persons, claiming to be the executive controllers of these lands, leased it out and were collecting huge rents from its use. They also collected drainage and irrigation fees from persons and never remitted these sums to the MMA.
It is clear that they ran the place as if it was their personal property. These persons owed the MMA some $40M for D&I services.
Many persons, some of whom were members of the said co-op, petitioned the Ministry of Agriculture to disband this entity since it was clearly not a co-op society, but was being used as a tool to allow a handful of persons to get rich.
It should be noted that the four (or more) persons who were solely benefitting from this scheme were leading members of the PNC/APNU in the area.
In 2013, under pressure from many landless farmers from the West Coast Berbice, the MMA engaged in discussions with the landless and poor villagers who issued the call. As a result of those consultations, and the fact that the ‘co-op’ was collecting D&I fees and not remitting it to the MMA, it was decided to grant leases to those villagers.
Some sixty farmers were granted leases amounting to 16-20 acres each. These persons were from the villages where the land was situated and all the farmers were Afro-Guyanese.
After the 2015 elections, the ‘owners’ of the co-op moved to seize the lands from the farmers. They got the police involved and even moved to reap the crops on the land!
Clear evidence of bully-boy tactics – an outstanding characteristic of the PNC/APNU! Some of the farmers took legal action and the court held that the lands were legally leased to the farmers and could not be arbitrarily repossessed.
It was after this court ruling that the PNC used its executive power to repossess the land in favour of the four (or more) PNC activists.
The President signed an order to take away the lands from more than sixty farmers (small Afro-Guyanese farmers) and give it to his comrades from the elite.
A clear judgment of discrimination and vindictiveness can, therefore, be made against the regime from the outcome of this scenario.
The main concern here seems to be the facts that these small farmers were granted lands during the PPP/C administration. Maybe part of the money collected by the PNC/APNU activists went to the PNC’s coffers. The regime also seems upset by the fact that some of these farmers sought legal assistance from former Attorney General Anil Nandlall, who took the matter to court and won a judgment in their (the farmers) favour.
Therefore, for the PNC/APNU, this was a sellout by these farmers, who tried to defend themselves and their livelihood from PNC bullyism. Now, they are being taught a lesson not to cross the path of the PNC/APNU. The regime will use state power to smash anyone they perceive as being against them and/or their policies.
The philosophy of the paramountcy of the PNC has been resuscitated. This belief is that the state is the executive arm of the PNC (now APNU), therefore, state power is to be used in the interest of the party.
While one of the main characteristics of governance of the APNU/AFC regime was discrimination against Indo-Guyanese, this kind of discrimination is different.
This is clearly political discrimination at its finest.
Here we have small, vulnerable Afro-Guyanese farmers whose livelihoods are being threatened. The vindictive actions of the regime are to intimidate Afro-Guyanese, who are aggrieved by the actions of the PNC/APNU, to not go against them. They expect such persons to go cap-in-hand and beg for mercy. Approaching the PPP for help is punishable by the loss of one’s livelihood.
This action is a clear case of executive vindictiveness and political discrimination.

Yours truly,
Donald Ramotar

Wakenaam residential drainage trench’s breeding place for mosquitoes

Dear Editor,
Kindly permit me space in your letter column to publish my letter which is of great importance to the community and nation as a whole.
In all the newspapers and on the radio and television, the general public is being warned to take precautions against the spread of mosquitoes and the Zika Virus by having all containers that can hold water properly covered.
Well, the Noitgedacht, Wakenaam drainage trench in the residential area running along the public road is silted up and in most places, has two inches to four inches of water, which is stagnant and smells very bad due to the dead fishes, etc, in it. The residents have to endure this as well as the mosquitoes which are breeding in the said trench.
I am asking the Government to look into this matter and have this trench dug as soon as possible before the Zika Virus or any other epidemic breaks out in the area.
The Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) staff is very young and inexperienced and needs guidance from higher authorities.
Your usual and kind cooperation is being anticipated in publishing this letter in an effort to have something done before it is too late.
Thank you.

Yours faithfully,
Shiv Persaud
Resident

What next will the City Council try to charge for?

Dear Editor,
Well, finally someone and not just anyone, but rather a senior and well respected journalist has called the Town Clerk of Georgetown for who he really is, after he was found to be backpedalling on a decision and announcement to charge persons flying kites on Easter Monday.
By the way, was it not the former Mayor and Deputy Mayor along with King who last year, campaigned against and encouraged vendors not to pay a cent to the City Council? But now that he is Town Clerk, he not only wants to charge the vendors but every kite flyer.
Mind you, the Town Clerk professes to be a devout Christian, even performing pastoral duties in the past at a Christian church.
Clearly the decision to charge kite flyers was taken by King and company and broadcast to the press by his faithful Public Relations Officer. It is consistent with their tax and spend policy and would have allowed them to hire their favourite multimillionaire contractor to clean up the city, paying him more millions from the proceeds they would have obtained from charging the kite fliers.
It is public knowledge that the Council’s coffers are empty after their extravagant spending spree and I have no doubt the Town Clerk saw this as an opportunity to raise some funds to continue this profligacy.
No doubt his political superiors realised that taking this course of action would be met with a tsunami of resistance and criticism from persons from every walk of life, and put paid to his avaricious plans.
But rather than do the decent and honest thing by telling the citizenry that they realised it was a bad idea and that they were no longer going to pursue it, he opted to pursue the ignominious route by pretending that they had never made such a decision and had never even made such a press release.
It is shameful for a public servant to be so deceitful, but then again, what can we expect from the Georgetown municipality, an entity that is eminent for fraud, corruption and graft.
If King wanted to raise funds to continue financing his lavish and imprudent spending, maybe he should have his bloated workforce make and sell kites of Easter Monday.

Sincerely,
Amber Valentine