November 23, 2014

Sooba blames ‘politically-aligned’ officials for garbage situation

– accuses them of receiving bribes for not enforcing littering regulations

By Erica Williams

An excavator removing debris from the Sussex Street Canal on Friday. The build-up of plastic bottles and other impediments in the drains and canals in the city has affected the smooth drainage of water following heavy down pours on Wednesday and Thursday (Marceano Narine photo)

An excavator removing debris from the Sussex Street Canal on Friday. The build-up of plastic bottles and other impediments in the drains and canals in the city has affected the smooth drainage of water following heavy down pours on Wednesday and Thursday (Marceano Narine photo)

Acting Town Clerk Carol Sooba has slammed “deeply politically aligned” managers at City Council for not enforcing anti-litter laws to combat the indiscriminate disposal of refuse.

Speaking with Guyana Times on Saturday, Sooba said enforcement of the regulations is outside of her jurisdiction.

The acting Town Clerk’s response comes amid frustration of the slow drainage of water accumulated during recent heavy downpours.

“We are cleaning this canal now and you will see, in a short while it will be dirty again, they just keep dumping garbage.”

The Litter Regulations passed in November 2013, clearly states that persons found littering can be fined up to $100,000 or be imprisoned for up to three months.

“Any person/persons found guilty of depositing litter in a public place, depositing litter from a moving vehicle unto a public place; and to causing or permitting persons to commit offences one and two above, under the litter regulations shall be liable to a fine of between 50,000 to 100,000 dollars or three months imprisonment. The absence of a waste receptacle is not an excuse under the law,” regulations said.

Sooba explained that one of the main contributing factors to excessive litter around the city is street corner vending. She explained that she has tried to address this problem since she took office in 2012, but her efforts were short-lived.

She accused senior officials of City Hall of receiving financial gains for allowing illegal vending. This, she said was the reason for vendors being allowed to vend on the shoulders of the road.

Acting Town Clerk Carol Sooba

Acting Town Clerk Carol Sooba

It was explained by Sooba that these vendors left their garbage just about anywhere. “If you go by Bourda and Stabroek market, you will see them. They sell right where they throw the garbage.”

Sooba said there are documents that will substantiate her claims of misconduct by some senior City Hall officials. However, efforts to speak with the officials pointed out by Sooba proved futile.

Covering drains

The acting Town Clerk is also appealing to business persons to desist from completely covering their drains with permanent concrete structures, thus obstructing the smooth flow of water.

The Litter Regulations also states “Allowing litter to enter a public place from a vehicle whether it is a bus, car, truck or trailer is an offence and any person found responsible for such an act will be fined the sum of $50,000. If the person that committed the offence cannot be determined, then the driver of the vehicle will be held responsible. If it is a company or organisation committing such an offence, then it shall be fined $100,000”.

It is an offence not to provide a litter bin in public transportation according to the Litter Regulations. This carries a fine of $15,000. It is also an offence for anyone to transport any substance or material in a manner that makes it likely to blow or fall off the motor vehicle.

In light of recent rainfalls and flooding around the City, the sore issue of garbage pile-up once again came to the fore.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) earlier this week wrote to Cevons Waste Management, which has responsibility for garbage collection in the City, to address the issue.

The EPA warned the waste management company of possible fines or imprisonment due to contamination of the environment.

The agency said through its Litter Enforcement Unit, it has been monitoring the state of residential and public places along greater Georgetown, East Bank, East Coast and West Bank of Demerara.

Poor collection

The agency said it found that garbage is present on many locations which Cevons Waste Management is contracted to clean by the Mayor and City Council, respective Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs) or Regional Democratic Councils (RDCs). It further said that garbage in the said areas are often not properly collected and adequately cleaned by the waste management company.

But Cevons Waste Management General Manager Morse Archer said “we do not have contracts with any NDCs”.

He further called on the EPA to be specific in identifying areas which the agency feels are not being properly cleaned.

“Yes! We have contract for collection of household waste and if proper investigation was done, they would have identified a specific area. Tell us clearly, we are not the only company contracted to collect garbage.”

The EPA further said that waste dumps which Cevons is contracted to clean are often filled for extended periods of times, this the agency said is an indication of irregular garbage collection.

The agency also highlighted the remains of garbage on road ways following garbage collection by Cevons. It warned the waste management company that it can be fined up to $500,000 if the poor work continues.

The EPA requested that the company cleans garbage dumps, public and residential areas and receptacles that it is contracted to clean.

“Receptacles must not be unclear for any period of time without giving notice to residents…,” EPA told Cevons.

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West Coast road corridor to be made safer

– $9.2B in contracts awarded

Public Works Minister Robeson Benn presents contract documents to Managing Director of Surrey Paving, Leslie Chang as BK International’s Brian Tiwarie (centre) and Permanent Secretary Balraj Balram (far left) of the Public Works Ministry look on 

Public Works Minister Robeson Benn presents contract documents to Managing Director of Surrey Paving, Leslie Chang as BK International’s Brian Tiwarie (centre) and Permanent Secretary Balraj Balram (far left) of the Public Works Ministry look on

The Public Works Ministry on Saturday inked a US $46,789,000 contract with several contractors for varying aspects of a major road improvement project, paving the way for a colossal transformation of the West Coast Highway.

Stretching from Vreed-en-Hoop to as far west as Hydronie (approximately 30.7km), the road network’s upgrade will cater for pavement rehabilitation, road widening, separation lanes for cyclists and pedestrians, installation of traffic signs, traffic lights and road markings, replacement of the Groenveldt Bridge, relocation of utilities  and general repairs.

The money, which was approved in the 2014 Budget, is provided primarily through the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the Government of Guyana.

The project not only deals with physical road works; in fact, the versatility of the contracts awarded allows for money to be spent on educating the general public on road safety awareness. The project consists of six components.

School Road Safety Awareness

This will be carried out by TRL Limited at a cost of £252,107. This component focuses primarily on road safety education in schools and will be implemented over a two-year period. It aims to raise awareness of road safety education, establish it in the school curriculum, and build teachers’ capacity in the subject among others.

Community, Driver Road Safety Education Programme

This is another key component, targeting minibus drivers in particular, and the general public and seeks to deliver a driver’s education course and provide road safety education in the communities served by this road network.

This component will be carried out by GeoTech Vision Guyana Inc, at a cost of US$86,500 over two years, and aims to, among other things, revise the Guyana National Road Safety Council’s course to ensure consistency with best practices, and review the content of the Guyana Police Force’s new drivers’ education course and make recommendations for improvement.

Monitoring and Evaluation

Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) focuses on developing a comprehensive results-based M&E system for this project. This will facilitate the project’s system becoming transferrable to projects of similar nature to be undertaken. M&E Group is tasked with communicating informative and summative evaluations of this project to the Public Works Ministry under this component. The contract is valued US$75,875.

Road works supervision

In order to ensure work is being executed, Road Works Supervision is catered for. SRKN Engineering, in association with BBFL Caribbean Limited is tasked with managing the day to day operation of this component on behalf of the Public Works Ministry, and to ensure the tasks are executed in accordance with the contract specifications.

Road works

A 36-month long road works component will be carried out through a collaborative effort between Surrey Paving & Aggregate Company Limited, and BK International Inc. Surrey Paving & Aggregate Company Limited is a Jamaican company, and was only awarded the contract after immense scrutiny by the Public Works Ministry and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB). The company also boasts an ISO 9000 certification for quality. Both parties expressed delight with the association.

Public Relations

There is as well a Public Relations aspect of this massive project; however, the contract for this has not yet been awarded.

Following the signing of the contracts at the Public Works Ministry, Kingston, Leslie Chang, Managing Director of Surrey Paving noted that, “We are very pleased to have formed this joint venture with BK International and it’s an association we’re very optimistic about, and we hope to continue beyond this particular contract.”

Brian Tiwarie, Chief Executive Officer of BK International, echoed Chang’s, commitment to making this joint venture work. “We want to guarantee you that this joint venture will go through.”

Surrey Paving & Aggregate Company Limited brings to the table for Guyana international impetus and outlook, Projects Director, Michael Archer took time to point out.

“Guyana has an economy that, like Jamaica, is striving to extend and improve the development. We see a lot of opportunities here, we bring a significant amount of experience and we are a Caribbean people, a Caribbean company, we have a regional outlook.”

Surrey Paving & Aggregate Company Limited has done similar projects in Trinidad, Antigua, St Kitts and St Vincent, and in all instances forged alliances with local contractors.

Road infrastructure

improvement

Meanwhile, Public Works Minister Robeson Benn pointed out that this project is a major step forward with regards to the development of public infrastructure in Guyana. He noted that the constant improvement of the road infrastructure has been a primary focus of this Government.

“The Government of Guyana, during the time of the PPP/C has been constantly working to improve our public road network and infrastructure.”

He urged that continued focus be kept on the prime objectives in terms of national development. Minister Benn also expressed his enthusiasm for the alliance between the two contracting companies.

“I think the partnership, the facilitation, the synergising of expertise is important for our region and important for Guyana.”

The development of all road infrastructures will assist in Guyana’s products and services becoming export-driven, he noted.

“We want to have an efficient system which delivers Guyana’s products, Guyana’s exports, Guyana’s economic activities, and these activities can only become more efficient if the transport infrastructure is constantly and continuously improved.”

The objective of this project is to increase efficiency and safety of road transportation along the West Coast Demerara. The Government of Guyana has been constantly working to improve the country’s public road network infrastructure, with the aim to bring it to a level to efficiently facilitate the development of the country.

It is in this line that roads were done in West Coast Berbice, East Berbice stretching to Moleson Creek, and current upgrade projects such as the East Bank Demerara Four-Lane Highway Expansion, and road fills in preparation for the upgrade of East Coast Demerara road.

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One dead in De William accident

Dead: Kevin Sackichan

Dead: Kevin Sackichan

An auto electrician has become the latest road fatality on Friday evening after he lost control of the car he was driving and collided with a parked car at Zeelugt, West Coast Demerara.

An occupant in the car is now a patient at the Georgetown Public Hospital.

Dead is Kevin Sackichan, 21, of Lot 214 Area G, De Willem Village, West Coast Demerara while Yudesh Bissoon is nursing broken ribs and a displaced right shoulder.

Sackichan reportedly died while receiving medical attention at the Georgetown Public Hospital about 23:00h on Saturday evening.

According to information received, the two young men were returning from Vreed-en-Hope when he lost control of the vehicle after hitting a hitch in a road at Zeelugt.

He then collided with a parked car and subsequently slammed into fence, tearing it down. He finally broke several branches from a mango tree before coming to halt.

The car, Guyana Times understands belonged to the young man’s sister who was asleep at the time he left with it.

He was not the holder of a driver’s license. At the scene, relatives of the dead man were removing the wrecked vehicle from the scene.

Sheik Saman, the owner of the parked car told this publication that he was in the upper flat of his house when he heard a loud sound and immediately thought that it had to be an accident.

As he looked out, he saw the white car bearing registration number, PSS 4919 and called out to his sons who were at home to render assistance.

Lying face down

The state of the car after the accident

The state of the car after the accident

He said as they went down, they saw one of the young men lying on his face, and when they went around the other side of the wreckage, they saw another. Bissoon was reportedly flung out of the car after the collision.

Nevertheless, he said that by that time persons stopped and assisted in taking them to the Leonora Cottage Hospital. They were subsequently transferred by ambulance to the Georgetown Public Hospital. Saman noted that when he woke up on Saturday morning, he found out that one of them died.

The man stated that from all indications, the two young men were speeding and were under the influence of alcohol. He said that the turn where the accident occurred has a little hump and that might have been a contributor for the accident.

At the home of the dead man, his mother told Guyana Times that her now dead son returned home from work, but on that evening she was too tired to sit with him as he ate his food. The distraught woman stated that she did some work in the house and was extremely exhausted so she decided to take an early night.

She said that her husband and other son were at home, along with a nephew, but none of them saw when he left the house with the car.

It was later in the night when the phone rang, she was aware that her son was not at home. She explained that she was asleep when the telephone rang and upon answering, she was told that her son was in an accident and he was taken to the Georgetown Public Hospital.

“At that time, I told them I was going to the hospital but they told me that he was coming around… a while later, my daughter called and advised me that I should go to the hospital because Kevin was in a serious state,” the woman cried.

As she arrived at the medical facility, she was told that her son was not responding and the doctors were not sure that he could make it. Within a few minutes of her arrival, she received the devastating news.

The mother said her son was responsible and was not sure what prompted him to leave with his sister’s car.

The young man was an employee at Amrol Mechanic Shop at De Willem at the time of his demise. He leaves to mourn his parents and three siblings.

His body is at the Georgetown Hospital Mortuary and is awaiting a post- mortem examination.

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Tourism Ministry launches Ambassador Programme

– awards local tourism pioneers

The recipients of this year’s tourism awards with President Donald Ramotar and other officials

The recipients of this year’s tourism awards with President Donald Ramotar and other officials

The Tourism, Industry and Commerce Ministry in collaboration with the Guyana Tourism Authority (GTA) on Friday evening launched the Ambassador Programme at the 2014 Tourism Awards, where local pioneers in the sector were recognised for their outstanding contribution in promoting tourism in Guyana.

The Tourism Ambassador Programme will see popular Guyanese figures being recruited as Tourism Ambassadors for the country at international events. This comes as the Tourism Ministry is pushing “Destination Guyana” with the new concept “Guyana – South America Undiscovered”.

GTA Director Indranauth Haralsingh noted that Ambassadors and entrepreneurs are the bedrock of tourism in any country. He noted that the Ambassadors will join in promoting “Destination Guyana”.

“As Ambassadors, they will act as the faces and Brand Ambassadors of the sector, both at home and abroad. They will help to promote ‘Destination Guyana’ and to help others to discover our very diverse, vibrant and exciting tourism product and destination,” he stated.

The GTA Director noted that these individuals will undergo training, adding that some of them have already done so. Additionally, they will have to attend tourism events and trade shows for and behalf of Guyana, where they will make presentations.

Haralsingh pointed out that Guyana will reap tremendous benefits from the goodwill, accomplishments and popularity of the Ambassadors, who have all pledged their commitment to give back to the country.

“They are all role models, leaders, they are all enthusiastic, popular, well networked, respect professionals in their own field; all with the ability to engage and motivate,” he stated.

The GTA Director further emphasised the need to mobilise all of Guyana to be good Ambassadors for “Guyana – South America Undiscovered”. On that note, he urged all to be better Ambassadors for their country, Guyana.

Power of personality

Tourism and Hospitality Association of Guyana (THAG) President Shaun McGrath said that the power of personality has proven to be most effective in any destination marketing strategy.

“Many countries have successful used their famous sons and daughters as tourism spokesman and Ambassadors with a mandate to promote the positives of their destination,” he said, highlighting cases such as Jamaica using athlete Usain Bolt; Australia using actor Paul “Crocodile Dundee” Hogan and South Korea using pop singer “Psy”.

“We are confident that the internationally recognised Guyanese personalities will take this new and important role to heart and know that they will produce significant results to the benefit of the country,” the THAG President said.

McGrath also underscoring the importance of every Guyanese being full-time Ambassadors for their country, noting that everyone has a role, whether directly or indirectly, to play in promoting the positives.

According to the THAG President, visitor arrivals have been increasing year after year in Guyana while many of the more established tourist destinations are suffering as a result of the world financial crisis. This, he said shows the successes that the sector has been enjoying.

The first batch of Ambassadors identified are musician Dave Martins; cricket legends Clive Lloyd and Shivnarine Chandrapaul; motor racer Andrew King; body builder Hugh Ross; squash champion Nicolette Fernandez; and cricket broadcaster Joseph “Reds” Perreira.

In brief remarks, Martins underscored the need for a positive platform for the country against all the negatives.

“We need to have the platforms where people talk about the vibrancy of the people, the cuisines, the festivals, the fabulous interior. Those are the things that I believe these Ambassadors will be stressing and talking about….I’ve been doing that since 1996 when I started Tradewinds,” the musician added.

Lloyd mentioned that there are many exciting products that Guyana has to offer.

“I think there is so much that we have to give foreigners and I’m glad that we have so many of them here. I’m sure when they go into the interior; they will thoroughly enjoy what we have to offer because Guyana is still one of the most beautiful places in South America,” the cricket legend affirmed.

In the meanwhile, 18 outstanding individuals were awarded as the Tourism Ministry and the GTA recognised those who contributed to tourism management, administration, marketing and development in Guyana.

These activities come as the 20th Tourism Month is being observed under the theme “Tourism Entrepreneur and Ambassadors mobilise”.

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APNU rejects GECOM’s independence

… demands elections with outdated Voter’s List

The A Partnership For National Unity (APNU) on Friday sounded its call for President Donald Ramotar to name a date for General and Regional Elections and for the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to begin preparations in this regard.

Opposition Leader David Granger

Opposition Leader David Granger

In a release, the coalition objected to a decision by GECOM to embark on a 7th Cycle of Continuous Registration as requested by the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C).
“It is very clear that GECOM, supposedly an independent body has responded to the PPP/C call for a 7th Cycle of Registration. APNU vehemently rejects this call and calls on the Government to stop the quest for buying time and hold General Elections now,” said the coalition.

APNU contended that the present Official List of Electors (OLE) that was recently released by GECOM is sufficient to proceed to elections. “APNU calls on GECOM to establish its readiness for elections. APNU also wish to call on the Government to use the present OLE and let us go to the polls,” the release said.

Meanwhile, APNU Leader David Granger at a press conference on Friday reiterated that his party will not be engaged in extra parliamentary dialogue with the Executive.
This is despite the President sending an invitation for dialogue to the political opposition – APNU and Alliance For Change (AFC) on Monday.
The offer has since been rejected by both parties.

However, when asked if he has officially responded to the President with respect to the invitation, Granger responded in the negative.
In fact, the Opposition Leader said he had not decided when he was going to reply to the invitation letter.

“I am considering a response” he said, adding that “I don’t have a time frame” in response to questions from reporters on the matter.
When asked whether any other member of the coalition would be in talks with the President during the prorogation period, Granger responded that the coalition had taken a stance.

He admitted that he could not stop the AFC, Working People’s Alliance (WPA) or any other party within the coalition from engaging the President.
“What I am saying is that David Granger and Donald Ramotar will not be talking until and unless Parliament is reconvened,” said Granger.
In wake of these revelations with respect to dialogue between the President and the Opposition Leaders, General Elections may not be such a distant reality for Guyanese.

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Central Govt considering flood relief strategy

Men at work to speed up drainage in the City on Friday

Men at work to speed up drainage in the City on Friday

– robust emergency response system kicks into gear

The Ministries of Agriculture, Local Government and Public Works have teamed up to provide the Mayor and City Council with much-needed resources to ensure efficient drainage of water accumulated in the City following heavy downpours on Thursday.

When this newspaper visited the Sussex Street Canal, on Friday afternoon, acting Town Clerk Carol Sooba was seen overlooking the works of persons attached to the various ministries as they de-silted the channel.

This was done to drain floodwaters from the Albouystown, West and East La Penitence areas, along with some sections of the Le Repentir Cemetery.

Following heavy downpours, certain sections of the City became flooded on Thursday, but waters began to recede by Friday.

Areas such as South Ruimveldt and Albouystown were severely affected. Sooba said the City Council was working on relocating one of its excavators to the South Ruimveldt areas.

The Sussex Street Canal was filled with debris, which got into the koker, restricting the smooth flow of water. As a result, the Public Works Ministry chose to temporarily replace the single large pump with two smaller ones to speed up drainage in Albouystown and surrounding areas, while the large pump is being repaired.

Works on the canal were expected to be completed by Friday.

Sooba told this newspaper that most of the pumps around the City are in working order with the exception of the one at Muneshwers and the Lamaha Street pump. However, there are temporary measures in place to reduce flooding in these areas, Sooba said.

“A lot of persons are out from the City Solid Waste Department and they are clearing markets, canals and drains. The City Engineer is clearing all internal drains and removing blockages,” Sooba explained.

She further stated that the Council was monitoring areas as far as Liliendaal and Turkeyen on the East Coast of Demerara. The Kitty Pump is also in working order, and works are also being done on the Downer Canal to facilitate drainage in the Sophia area.

The rains over the past few days have been intense. On Thursday, some 7 3/4 inches of rainfall was recorded, the highest amount of rainfall recorded in a decade.

Sooba lauded the success of the “Clean Up My Country” campaign for significantly reducing the impact of the heavy rains.

“Had it not been for the cleanup programme, I don’t know what would have happened to us. It would have been worse than the 2005 floods.”

She appealed to citizens to desist from dumping garbage in canals and along the roadways, and to dispose of their refuse in a responsible manner.

Sooba also called on businessmen to be more responsible when constructing big buildings.

“A lot of these business people build their parapets over the drains and the … manholes, obstructing the free flow of water. This must stop. We are pleading with them to be responsible; all of us need to be responsible to reduce the impact of natural disasters,” Sooba said.

Schools and businesses were closed in affected areas and residents of areas such as Albouystown have been counting their losses.

Meanwhile, the Agriculture Ministry, in a release, said that overcast conditions over coastal to inland areas are expected this morning.

These conditions are expected to be accompanied by moderate to heavy showers and thundershowers. The afternoon will see a decrease in intensity and frequency in the showers, but the cloudy to overcast conditions are expected to continue.

“It is also expected that the precipitations will recommence during the early morning hours. The 24 hours’ accumulation is expected to be between 80 mm and 120 mm. Other areas can expect varying cloudiness with light to moderate scattered showers and possible thundershowers,” the release concluded.

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GBTI opens $60M branch at Bartica

The $60 million Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry branch, which was commissioned at Second Avenue, Bartica, Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni)

The $60 million Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry branch, which was commissioned at Second Avenue, Bartica, Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni)

The Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry (GBTI) has commissioned its 12th branch that will seek to offer quality service to Guyanese citizens.

On Wednesday evening, President Donald Ramotar joined the bank’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) John Tracey, Board Chairman Robin Stoby and other officials for the symbolic ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The new $60 million facility, which is located at Second Avenue, Bartica, Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni) opened for business four weeks ago.

The Head of State noted that yet again this investment “demonstrates the confidence that the business sector has in our economy because they see the changes that have occurred over the years, they see they have a partner for development”.

Further, the President reiterated his administration’s preparedness to partner with investors, to make concessions towards boosting the productive sector of the economy.

President Donald Ramotar watches on as a student of the St John the Baptist Primary School cuts the ribbon to commission the new GBTI branch. Also witnessing the event are Finance Minister, Dr Ashni Singh, the Bank’s CEO John Tracey, Board Chairman Robin Stoby, students and other officials

President Donald Ramotar watches on as a student of the St John the Baptist Primary School cuts the ribbon to commission the new GBTI branch. Also witnessing the event are Finance Minister, Dr Ashni Singh, the Bank’s CEO John Tracey, Board Chairman Robin Stoby, students and other officials

While GBTI has demonstrated confidence in Bartica, with its latest initiative, the administration is convinced that the bank will continue to carry out its civic duty in terms of holding up to its corporate responsibilities.

“We have partnered with GBTI on many projects — the Women of Worth (one example), and we found them to be a good corporate citizen and we hope by establishing here that they will continue to demonstrate the civic mindedness to contribute to other areas of development in Bartica.”

President Ramotar added that the administration has confidence in its citizens and it business community that they will work hand-in-hand in order to build a better Guyana.

He noted that while investors continue to play their role in the country’s development, the Government is also doing its part.

Government’s role

“We are also investing a lot in Bartica, and the region as a whole, only yesterday (Tuesday) at Cabinet, we took the decision to fix the airstrip… this is needed for many economic and emergency reasons. This infrastructure is very important to ensure that we can have good services.”

Looking forward, the Head of State said he believes that it was a wise decision to invest in a community such as Bartica, since like the rest of the country, that community has a bright future ahead.

Further, with collaborative efforts, the President said he believes that in his lifetime, Guyana can achieve the status of being a developed country as it has all the necessary ingredients.  He noted that in order to move Guyana to this status, the administration has been making investments that will ensure this happens.

“We have all the ingredients for that, we have the natural resources and talented people, and we have been investing in our people.”

One of the administration’s main policies, which it has been working on over the past two decades, is investing in the country’s human capital.

He pointed out that each year; the national budget clearly reflects this as a significant portion goes into the social sector, more importantly the education sector.

“… we have a sweeping Education Bill to modernise and revolutionise our education system. We are going to lay the social and physical infrastructure to ensure that our people are second to none, that they would be capable of taking our country to achieve the potential that we all know it has,” he asserted.

The President again spoke of the administration’s continuous effort to realise the plan to bring cheap and reliable energy to all Guyanese as this is seen as the biggest impediment in the country’s development.

 He noted that while Guyana has made significant strides in the midst of an atmosphere which has not been conducive to economic growth, it is the administration’s sound governance policies that have made these possible.

The President further lauded GBTI for the initiative, as he noted that their focus on diversification ties it perfectly with the Government’s policies.

Meanwhile, the bank’s CEO, John Tracey in his remarks, expressed his admiration for developments in Bartica and its surroundings, and the growing role it is playing in national development.

Tracey pointed out that Bartica is situated at the confluence of two of the mightiest rivers of Guyana, Essequibo and Mazaruni, and the fact that they are the most travelled rivers in Guyana.

“And from time gone back, Bartica has been described as the gateway to the interior and that interior as we know is vastly rich in natural resources below the ground and therefore its strategic geographic and logistical importance cannot be overlooked.”

The bank’s CEO said he is of the belief that Bartica is at the juncture of its history when it needs to engage in more broad-based economic activities.

“GBTI with its wide suite of products and banking services is ready to support this diversification.”

Tracey said the bank would be focusing on small business loans, loans to single mothers, low-income mortgage loans that can help in expanding the economic base of the mining community.

During the first month of operation, the bank has facilitated the opening of 242 savings accounts, three current accounts, one loan and 71 loan enquiries, rented 12 safe deposit boxes and distributed VISA debit cards.

This facility will offer all of its modern services, including a 24-hour ATM service, international transfer, visa debit cards, and safe deposit box, among others.

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Security Guard killed in Land of Canaan accident

A security guard attached to the Rambarran Shipyard, Land of Canaan, East Bank Demerara, was on Friday afternoon struck down and killed by a speeding motorcycle while attempting to cross the Public Road.

The dead man has been identified as Mr Powers (only name given), 62, of Land of Canaan. According to information gathered, the man was reportedly under the influence of alcohol and was returning home from a nearby drinking spot when he met with the accident.

The motorcyclist was reportedly travelling at a fast pace when he collided with Powers in the vicinity of the Five Door Sluice, as it was raining. One of Powers’ legs was almost severed by the impact of the crash and he sustained other injuries to his body.

An eyewitness told the Guyana Times that Powers was consuming alcohol at a shop at “Koker Dam” and had just left to return home. She added that after the accident, the motorcycle rider was rushed to the Diamond Diagnostic Centre to receive medical treatment, as he too sustained injuries, but to his head.

The now dead man, the eyewitness said, had collected his wages earlier in the day. She claimed that it was a habit for him to take his “drinks” whenever he received his money. Powers, who had been a driver, but, owing to his age, got a job at the Rambarran Shipyard, was described as a pleasant person.

Just Sunday last, Ramdoolar “Eddy” Dhanraj, 60, of Lot 8 Public Road, Pearl, East Bank Demerara, was crushed to death by a laden-lumber truck on the East Bank Highway. He was one of two persons killed that day, as Guyana’s road accident death toll spirals out of control.

As Guyana observes National Road Safety Month, Police have released statistics revealing that for the first 10 months of the year, 113 persons lost their lives on the country’s roadways as a result of 104 traffic accidents, a whopping 33 per cent increase in road deaths over the corresponding period last year.

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Dr Gopaul moves to High Court today

NBS $69.9M fraud…

…to set aside controversial Ombudsman’s Report
By: Jomo Paul

Labour Minister Dr Nanda Kishore Gopaul will be moving to Guyana’s High Court during the course of today as he seeks to contest the legality of a recent 25-page report on a New Buildin

Labour Minister,  Dr Nanda Kishore Gopaul

Labour Minister,
Dr Nanda Kishore Gopaul

g Society (NBS) $69.9M fraud several years ago.
While Dr Gopaul was unavailable to comment on the issue on Thursday, a well placed source has confirmed that the Minister along with his attorneys will be moving to the high court to dismantle the report done by the Ombudsman Justice Winston Moore.
The source explained to Guyana Times that the Minister and his lawyers believe that the report that was submitted was undertaken outside the remit of the Ombudsman.
“He wants to have it completely set aside, since the Ombudsman went outside of his remit when he did that report,” said the source.
It should be noted that effectively setting aside the report, nullifies and discredits it, hence will not be submissable in any criminal matter.
“So tomorrow we will know about that at the court,” the source emphasized.
Dr Gopaul himself had made similar utterances, saying that by law, the Ombudsman does not have “the mandate and jurisdiction to review the decision of a private company to dismiss its employees.
“The fact that the company was not even consulted simply compounds the wrong.
“Even worse, the Ombudsman embarks upon an inquiry to review a dismissal and to make findings thereon, when that very issue is the subject of active litigation filed in the High Court. The report, therefore, has been done in complete disregard of the sub-judice principle,” said the Minister.
Dr Gopaul asserted that “there seems to be a lot of spin, political and otherwise, on the Ombudsman’s report on a complaint by Maurice Arjoon against his prosecution as a result of a fraud committed at the New Building Society in 2006”.
Meanwhile, NBS on Tuesday slammed statements which suggested that senior Government functionaries were involved in influencing decisions at the bank.
“The NBS categorically condemns any suggestion by those bent on creating mischief and misleading the public that the Society is or was managed by senior Government functionaries, including former President Bharrat Jagdeo,” the bank said in a strongly worded statement.
The NBS cleared the air on several speculative reports in sections of the media following claims made in a report submitted by the Ombudsman’s Office.
The bank stood its ground, stating that the three managers who were dismissed were guilty of gross misconduct, a breach of the rules and standing operational procedures, collusion and conspiring to commit fraud.

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Over 5000 applications being processed for Remigrant Scheme

– as massive transformation reshapes East Bank corridor
In excess of 5000 thousand applications have been received for the ‘Re-migrant Housing Scheme’ programme, according to Housing and Water Minister Irfaan Ali.

Housing and Water Minister Irfaan Ali taking President Donald Ramotar and Finance Minister  Dr Ashni Singh on a tour of the 1000 house lot project at Perseverance on Wednesday

Housing and Water Minister Irfaan Ali taking President Donald Ramotar and Finance Minister
Dr Ashni Singh on a tour of the 1000 house lot project at Perseverance on Wednesday

The minister said that the scheme, which is located in Providence, East Bank Demerara is another indication of Government’s commitment to provide housing for all Guyanese at home and abroad.
He pointed out that even though overseas based Guyanese may not be interested in moving back, having ownership of a property within the scheme will bring revenues into the country.
“Even if the overseas based Guyanese use their secondary homes, what that does is it creates employment for gardeners and housekeepers; they have to furnish their homes; they have to get security, and they have to utilise gas, electricity and water. These consumption levels will build the economy and creates spending,” he stated.
The Remigrant Housing Scheme is located north of the Mocha Main Road, about one mile east of the Providence Police Station compound, E.B.D. The lots range from 6000 to 9000 square feet, with prices between $4.5 million and $7 million. Interested remigrants had to be Guyanese over 21-years of age and do not have ownership of homes here. The applications are available online.
Minister Ali was at the time speaking against the backdrop of the East Bank Demerara corridor undergoing a massive transformation. He was at the time addressing a gathering at the commissioning ceremony of the Unicomer multi-million dollar distribution facility at Eccles Industrial Site, E.B.D.
He explained that Government has invested some $10 billion as part of an extended plan to create new opportunities for businesses to expand their services. The minister noted one such project is the development of Eccles Industrial Site which housed several housing schemes and industrial companies.
Ali pointed out that the area has been designed to have mild commercial activities in front while the major ones will be at the back, where the distribution centre is located.
“The reason why this area has been designated for this purpose is because of its close proximity to the low income housing and the middle income housing. Thus the creation of employment and the reduction of transportation cost to get to your place of employment”, he remarked.
The minister went onto say that the private sector has been taking advantage of the opportunities available at the area and it is estimated that they invest more than US$200 million in projects at the location.
The East Bank Demerara corridor is home to one of the country’s most developed community and several developing housing schemes. The Diamond scheme is considered one of the most, if not the most, developed community along the East Bank. It currently housed three major commercial banks, a fire station, a diagnostic centre, a secondary and primary nursery schools and a gas station with a food court.
Additionally under the turn key project, the ministry launched the 1000 homes project. This project is seeing increasing interests from persons, particularly those who fall within the low and middle income bracket.
The initial first phase of the Turn Key Project has cost close to G$200 million. From the 1000 projects, some 800 low income and 200 middle income families are expected to benefit. The project’s overall contribution to the economy stands at $4 billion while, the loan portfolio to the banking sector is expected to increase by $4.8 billion over the expected two-year period.
Meanwhile, another project which will see major transformation to the East Bank Corridor is the construction of the four lane highway from Herstelling to Diamond. The road is set to be completed sometime early next year.
Plans are also in the works to construct a highway connecting Diamond Housing Scheme to Ogle, East Coast Demerara.

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