Buxton/Friendship present 15-point development plan
Job creation, infrastructure among short-term needs

Stabroek News
May 20, 2001

Buxton/Friendship residents listed job creation, completion of the primary school and drainage and irrigation among the issues they would like addressed in the short term, when they met the depressed communities needs committee yesterday.

They also mentioned the renewal of a 100-year lease of state land, which ends in another couple of years, extension of the current boundary of the backdam for residential purposes, and the upgrading of the Buxton Health Centre to a cottage hospital providing a 24-hour service on the short list.

Residents of the contiguous communities have also indicated a willingness to establish a broad-based committee to liaise between the community and the committee to ensure better representation in a coordinated manner. The committee was established as part of the menu of measures agreed to by President Bharrat Jagdeo and PNC REFORM Leader Desmond Hoyte during their ongoing dialogue.

The first meeting of the committee, chaired by Co-Chairman Phillip Alsopp got underway at the Buxton Community High School in Friendship yesterday. It was well attended by community leaders, who articulated their views in a well thought out manner, before one resident, Jerome Williams presented the committee with copies of a `Buxton/Friendship 15-point Community Development Plan' which embodied the contributions made prior to the handing over of the plan.

Others present were Co-chairman Philomena Sahoye-Shury, James McAllister, Harry Narine Nawbatt, Bert Carter, Faizal Jafferally, Clyde Roopchand, T.A. Earle, Odinga Lumumba, Urmia Johnson and Mohamed Ally. Professionals including engineers, teachers, businessmen, farmers and youth leaders were among those who shared their views.

It would appear that the plan, which looked at the issue of police harassment, land policy, infrastructure, social services including adequate and potable water supply, had the input of many members of the community. However, only limited copies were circulated before the two-hour meeting.

According to the plan, residents are calling for a complete halt to police harassment, brutality and unwarranted searches of their homes. They are also calling for an immediate investigation into the death of Rory Scott of Buxton, who they alleged was shot in his bed three years ago one early morning, dragged out and thrown into a police truck.

They also called for the resuscitation of the two sluice gates at the conservancy dam of the Company Road canal; building, replacing and repairing roads, bridges and kokers; fencing, digging, and regular maintenance of the canal and side trenches that would require cleaning, draining and a constant flow of fresh water on a daily basis for irrigation purposes.

The residents are seeking a renewal of the leased land from the state to residents of the two communities and the immediate return of all backlands to residents of Buxton/Friendship. They would also like a full-fledged investigation to ascertain how this land was given to non-residents for cane farming and cattle rearing.

Apart from the extension of the current boundaries in the backlands of Buxton, they would like the state to allocate land to the east/south east end of Friendship - currently under cane cultivation by the Guyana Sugar Corporation - to residents of Buxton/Friendship for housing as the population has increased. At present Buxton/Friendship has a population of about 15,000.

They are also calling for the speedy completion of the Buxton/Friendship Primary School which was undertaken by the Primary Education Improvement Project almost a year ago. Work was halted on the project, which was due for completion in July. In the meantime, children are being accommodated in the Buxton market where lighting is inadequate and conditions are generally not conducive to learning. Once this school has been completed they would like the other primary school in the village to be rehabilitated and the Buxton Community High upgraded to a secondary school. They also called for some attention to be given to the Bladen Hall Multilateral School, which is two villages away.

In addition they would like the market building to be rehabilitated, proper roads built, adequate street lighting - especially at strategic points - and emergency repairs to the seawall which they say constantly threatens the village.

To boost production in the community they would like to obtain low-interest rates and long-term loans for young low-income workers for housing, as well as loans and loan facilities in the community to start up small businesses including farming. They would also like the abattoir upgraded.

Also, in the line of job creation and income generation they have suggested the reconstruction of the garment and plastic factories, which had been in operation in the community some years ago but no longer function. They are also encouraging the construction of a milk plant and other factories or investment by a foreign company to create medium- or long-term employment.

Some residents felt that apart from the points made in the 15-point development plan there could have been more suggestions but they were caught off guard by the meeting which had been called urgently to address the needs of the community. They also suggested that the committee members tour the community, to better assess situations for themselves.

The suggestion to establish a broad-based committee to liaise between the community and the committee received unanimous approval. And the last point in the plan admonished that "no one man, woman, group or group leader" must make decisions for or on behalf of residents without consulting the various group representatives. Decisions made must also be publicised and explained to all residents of the communities.