Problems Buxton wants solved

What the people say about...
By Miranda La Rose
Stabroek News
May 21, 2001

The committee established by President Bharrat Jagdeo and former President and PNC REFORM Leader Desmond Hoyte to look into the needs of depressed communities held its first meeting at Buxton on Saturday. Below residents of Buxton share their views on the committee's first meeting and problems they feel that need to be addressed urgently.

Marlon Harris - building inspector: `First of all the committee can only help if residents of Buxton help themselves. Inasmuch as Buxton needs a lot of assistance financially to get projects and programmes off the ground for the benefit of the community unless, we Buxtonians first take action success will be limited. However, the move to rebuild the market and return to farming is a step in that direction. It also shows that there is a commitment by our people to help ourselves. However, there will be need for investments in the community to develop industries. The resuscitation of garment and plastic factories which the community once boasted and other industries could provide much needed employment to young people who otherwise could get involved in teenage pregnancy and illicit activities including drug abuse.'

Paulette Charles - retired educator: `The meeting between the committee and community was rather abrupt so that community leaders had not had much time to look at all the problems that are affecting the community. While the committee would have achieved its preliminary objective of information gathering I think that to better appreciate what is happening the members should go into the community so they can be objective about what they see. Despite our limited human resources in Buxton I think that there is still much that many of us could offer. We are not daunted by the prospects ahead of us. This is the committee's first visit... we have heard from them and they have heard from us, so from a point of understanding each other at another meeting we could better strategise.'

Handel Neptune - carpenter: `In terms of the future development of the community many issues have been raised. But the immediate problem is to get young persons off the roads in Buxton. While some may not be skilled but could easily learn if trained there are many who have some training and are semi-skilled in need of experience who are not being given the chance to get a job outside of Buxton. They go looking for jobs and are turned down because they come from Buxton and have the wrong complexion or have the wrong hair to get the job. Many persons become frustrated when they were interviewed and turned down and someone else of another race shows up and gets the same job. People must realise that regardless of race and where we come from we are all Guyanese and we have a role to play.'

David Jones - contractor: `The problems in the community are compounded by the joblessness of young people and total frustration. This is further compounded by a feeling of isolation resulting from the frustrations. As a contractor who may get a job every now and then, but not sufficient, I know of the spin-off effects this can have within the community. However, the suggestions to the committee once accepted and implemented could go a far way in alleviating some of the real causes of the problems within the community but we have to encourage our young people to become more self-employed and self-sufficient. This is what I have been doing.'

Handel Moses - teacher: `It is alright for us to come and sit here for two to three hours and voice our concerns but first we need to preserve what we have and not self-destruct in a situation like this in which the community might have been neglected by the authorities. Based on the discussions and what has come out of the talks with the community the government will be spending millions of dollars in the community and it will be useless if we, the residents in this community do not care and protect what we achieve. I think we have to make a conscious effort within the family and among relatives and friends to orient ourselves to protect our gains.'

Kim Kissoon - housewife: `First of all I appreciate what President (Bharrat) Jagdeo and Mr (Desmond) Hoyte are doing to look at the problems and deal with them within this community. I feel proud of them. I now hope that after this initial step we can move to the second and third stages and beyond to get on with the business of the development of the community and ultimately the country. I think that more than the government, the success of projects and programmes in Buxton will depend on ourselves.'

Bernice Glen - housewife: `I think there will be an air of optimism for the people of Buxton once the committee gives us a feedback and that confidence is established. People here welcome the interaction between the committee and the community for its improvement. The needs of the community have been put forward by many leading persons here. However, in spite of all of that, one area I feel that should be addressed urgently is the upgrading of the health centre to a cottage hospital since some of the previous services offered are no longer there. It should cater for things like extraction and deliveries. It is distressing to know that many women never make it to hospital and end up getting babies by the roadside or on their journey to hospital.'

Linden Wilson - cane farmer representative: `The main problem for me is drainage and irrigation and I must mention too how GUYSUCO (Guyana Sugar Corporation) handles us. We buy the cane tops from GUYSUCO for $4,300 per ton and GUYSUCO buys a ton of ripened cane at $3,900. That is way below what we buy the tops for. The margin of profit for us is very low but we have to do it because it is survival for some of us. The other problem is that GUYSUCO does not allow a representative from Buxton to observe the weighing process. We have written to two administrative managers about this problem but we have had no response. I am also willing to work with the committee for a change for the better.'

Leroy Hamer - cane farmer: `One of our problems for Buxton cane farmers is that the National Cane Farming Committee is not functioning and this is affecting us because we cannot take our concerns to the national association and GUYSUCO does not want to pay attention to the needs of a few farmers.'

Tony Dundas - cane farmer: `We cane farmers in Buxton get a raw deal in the price GUYSUCO pays us for our cane. We are asking GUYSUCO to divide the backlands into two sections, lower and upper, and pay us according to the sugar content of the cane we sell. In our area we grow and sell cane with a high sugar content and we are paid the same price as those who grow and sell cane with low sugar content. That is not fair. We may grow our cane for a year and they grow theirs for just six months and we are all paid the same thing.'

Merle Dover - `It is good that the committee came to Buxton to hear and to assist in addressing issues affecting the community. I think Buxton is carrying a lot of blame on the east coast for things persons from the community did not commit or did not approve off. Things like murders committed in the backdams and many crimes committed during the protest. In addition the issue of police harassment needs to be looked into. It is putting people under pressure because you never know who will be the police's next victim.'