President Bharrat Jagdeo yesterday commissioned four projects valued at approximately $185M at Corriverton, Guyana's easternmost town, as he entered the final day of a hectic two-day visit to Region 6 (East Berbice/Corentyne).
The four projects included a spanking new municipal market constructed at a cost of some $89M and three access roads namely Cemetery, Co-op and Rampoor streets.
The projects were executed under Stage One of Phase Two of the Urban Development Programme (UDP). The programme is being funded through a soft loan of US$25M made available to the government of Guyana by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). Under the programme, the six municipalities in Guyana will benefit from infrastructural improvements, capacity building and the valuation of properties.
Speaking at the commissioning of the new market, President Jagdeo committed his government to increased and further assistance to the Corriverton Town Council.
He noted that under the programme it took a long time to see physical evidence of improvement such as the market and other projects but was hopeful that there will be an acceleration in future phases. "A lot of money", he said, "was accessible under the programme". According to Minister of Regional and Local Government, Harripersaud Nokta, the first stage of the first phase of the programme is nearing completion and stage two of phase one is expected to commence soon. The town council, he explained, is to identify additional projects which will require funding in the township.
Town Clerk, Twindranauth Latchminarine in giving a brief background to the projects said work on the market commenced on July 23, 2001 and was completed by the contractor R. Bassoo and Sons on May 5, 2002. The market, he explained, is divided into two structures measuring 241 feet by 105 feet and 241 feet by 29 feet and can accommodate approximately 1,300 trays, stalls and fish slabs. Work on the three roads began on January 23, 2002 and was completed seven months later. Three additional roads, he said, are to be constructed under stage two of phase one.
Addressing a cross-section of citizens including a number of vendors, councillors and businesspersons in the fish section of the market, President Jagdeo said the township will soon benefit directly and indirectly from the US$100M Guysuco expansion project at Skeldon. "The entire community will benefit in various ways including the creation of jobs and the expansion of businesses from such a massive injection of funds." Referring to the crime situation, he called on Berbicians not to contribute to the existing fear in the country by spreading rumours about the presence of bandits in the region. Over the past week there have been several rumours and unconfirmed reports about armed bandits being sighted in various areas in the region including Guysuco's canefields.
These rumours, he noted, will only add further fear and traumatise young people.
Commander of `B' Division, Assistant. Commissioner, Paul Slowe told this newspaper last week that the Division had indeed received several reports of bandits being sighted in the region.
The reports, he said, had all been checked but not evidence was found to support them. He assured residents that proper security arrangements were in place amidst growing concerns over security as activities to celebrate Town Day in New Amsterdam move into gear this week.
Mayor of Corriverton, Roy Baijnauth in welcoming the Head of State and his entourage said Guyana more than ever before needs to seek God's guidance in the face of the current crime wave.
He disclosed that within the next two years new valuations will be introduced. "Unfortunately, over the four years, the council has been running on its bearings following the filing of an (application for an) injunction by a group of businesspersons against the introduction of increased rates and taxes by the council."
Among those accompanying the President were Minister of Agriculture, Navin Chandarpal and Regional Chairman Rohit Persaud.
Assuring the `Chief Citizen' of Corriverton that he did not have $250 million to give to the township, Jagdeo said Buxtonians have received more assistance over the past ten years than any other period in the past. Referring to the proposal made by PNC/R leader, Desmond Hoyte for a $250M plan for Buxton, he argued that "if we give in to this proposal every community in the country will stop people with guns and demand money. I am willing to work with all Guyanese and political parties to develop Guyana, but I will not do it through" these methods.
A heavy downpour then made it difficult for the gathering to hear what the Head of State was saying as he wound up his brief address. The ribbon to open the market was cut by the oldest vendor Jeevan Basdeo Sugrim who said he has been a fish vendor since the market was first opened back in the early 1960s. He recalled selling in mud and water whenever it rained like yesterday.
Earlier in the day the Head of State met with families at Rose Hall and Number 52 and 72 villages who lost relatives recently at the hands of marauding bandits. Later in the day he met with rice millers and farmers at the Tagore Memorial High School and concluded his visit with a community meeting at Yakusari Primary School, Black Bush Polder.