Berbice: the land that time forgot
Stabroek News
September 22, 2001

Dear Editor,

Honourable Minister of Education, I would like to submit a question, which you may wish to place in your SSEE Question Bank. The question is `Name the county that dreads sundown.' I am sure that children from Berbice should get this one correct.

Needless to say, Berbice has returned, not surprisingly, to the dark ages. The familiar and all engulfing shroud of darkness has enveloped the ancient, marginalised and forgotten county of Berbice, yet again. As a matter of fact, the situation has returned to normal, albeit with a new dimension, for the worse of course. Now the power goes off at 5.00pm and does not come on until 11.00pm and this follows after the previous day's schedule of blackout from 5.00am to 7.00pm! An entire county, perhaps with the exception of central New Amsterdam, is plunged into darkness.

I can vaguely recall someone writing, some time in the past, that the current game-plan of partial rehabilitation of the two pieces of scrap iron at Canefield is an exercise in futility and I hasten to add, an insult to Berbicians. This primitive method of intended power generation cannot work However, since there are no alternatives, Berbicians have no solace but to retard and grow old in the dark. My heart goes out to schoolchildren who have to endure this most cruel torment for all of their formative years. I am sure that the late great Dr Cheddi Jagan would have given his all to reverse this curse and if he was alive, this tragedy would have been averted. Someone stated that Berbice will be a "pole of development." That person probably had a midsummer night's dream. No one is going to invest in this asylum of infrastructural decay and darkness. Incidentally, the `Industrial Site' project is sheer nonsense. The current situation seems to indicate that total collapse is at hand.

The irony in all of this is that electrical charges are increasing in spite of the longer duration and frequency of blackouts. I guess these unjustified and unwarranted increases are to ensure the delivery of the astronomical management fees (US$4M per year) for an incompetent management team who are being paid for a service they are presently incapable of providing. This has the caption of `you come up first, then we will come up.' This is the first expatriate team, from my experience, which does not seem to have an effective, practical strategic plan nor the hardware to deliver the goods. This is tantamount to daylight robbery and sadly, it seems that the government is incapable of arresting this great injustice.

It is my firm conviction that these people should be sent back from whence they came and Prime Minister Sam Hinds should resign! To hope for an improvement is to live in a fool's paradise. Berbice is fast receding into oblivion and will soon be an ideal location for Hollywood to shoot pre?historic movies like `The Land that Time Forgot' or the `Jurassic Park' sequels.

Yours faithfully,

Bill Tracy