Hoyte urges $250M revival scheme for Buxton, environs
Proposal to be put to govt
By Samantha Alleyne
October 11, 2002
PNC/R Leader Desmond Hoyte last evening called for a $250M socio- economic transformation plan for Buxton and its environs which he said should be implemented by the government.
Hoyte, speaking to a large crowd on the Buxton Railway Embankment, said that the problems of Buxton are not going to be solved by guns and force. "It cannot be solved by guns and force" but what is required is social transformation that will give hope to the community and serve as a model for the development of other communities, he asserted.
The plan Hoyte outlined involves the improvement of the village's infrastructure, the sustaining of the village's morals and the provision of better educational facilities and employment opportunities for the villagers.
The party leader along with members of the PNC/R central executive held the meeting to demonstrate that the party was in "total solidarity" with the people of Buxton.
Buxton has made the headlines recently because of rampant crime in and around the village. Villagers have been accused of harbouring criminals, including the infamous escapees, and on many occasions hijacked cars were recovered in the village. Several persons have been killed and injured in and around the village by bandits. In an attempt to curb some of the violence, Guyana Defence Force (GDF) patrols have been stationed in the village and this has been strongly opposed by the villagers.
The PNC/R leader, who was driven right up to the makeshift stage to loud applause and shouts of "our leader", told the villagers that his purpose for speaking at the meeting was to outline the programme to them. He said that it is the same programme he will propose to the government to resolve the problems of Buxton and other villages with similar predicaments along the coast. This statement was seen as significant in the context of the suspended dialogue between Hoyte and President Bharrat Jagdeo. Several efforts are underway to have these talks resumed.
"What is required is a social (and) economic transformation plan which the government must develop in consultation with you, in cooperation with you, to produce a well-coordinated action plan for the economic and social transformation of Buxton," Hoyte said.
"And we are not talking about tinkering, we are not talking about filling a hole in one road and digging a lil trench here, we are not talking about that, we are talking about a total plan for the rehabilitation and improvement of the entire catchment area."
He posited that the objective of the plan must be to restore the production base of the village which allows for it to retain, rehabilitate and improve its basic infrastructure.
Further, "to establish a sustainable programme of social services and rejuvenate the cultural life of the community. To provide education and employment opportunities, or rather to provide employment opportunities for villagers especially the young people....."
Listing some of the specifics of the proposed programme, Hoyte said that there is need to construct sluices at the back of Buxton, in Vigilance and Annandale. Further, the clearing and maintaining of the sideline dams to prevent flooding, the clearing of 400 acres of farmland and the building of roads so the villagers could have access to their farms and bring out their produce.
Also the government must purchase land, which according to Hoyte had been identified sometime back, in order to build the Buxton Practical Instruction Centre. It was also recommended that a multi-purpose centre be constructed south of Buxton beyond the embankment road so that the villagers could have a site for adult and continuing education, cultural activities and community meetings. The programme also includes the reconstruction of the Bladen Hall Multilateral School so that the students could have a proper place for their secondary school education. Also recommended is the upgrading of the six mud dams into all-weather roads, adequate street lighting and an improved Buxton Health Centre. The villagers must also have access to potable water, and a rehabilitated abattoir.
"These are things they have to do if they want quiet and peace and contentment in the Buxton/Friendship area," Hoyte said to loud applause.
At this point in his speech a number of squibs were fired off in the distance and several persons exclaimed loudly but Hoyte calmly said "my friends don't bother with that."
"The advantage of this plan is that it can serve as a model for the development of all the marginalised and depressed communities in this country. And I believe that given political will and good days this plan could be completed in thirty-six to forty months and its cost will be in the vicinity of $250 million spent over that period...... Comrades it is a small amount of money to expend," Hoyte said.
Hoyte and President Jagdeo had set up a committee out of their dialogue to address the concerns of depressed communities including Buxton. Some work was done in the village and plans were in train for other communities to be tackled. The dialogue was suspended by the PNC/R because it said decisions agreed were not being implemented and no other depressed areas have been addressed.
Hoyte told the villagers he did not speak on crime as the responsibility for preventing crime and apprehending criminals lies with the government. "It is true that ordinary citizens also have an obligation to help in this regard but the primary responsibility rests with the government of the country and they must do their job and if they can't do their job I will say like the late (Trinidadian Prime Minister) Eric Williams, `get the hell out of here'."