H. E. Brigadier President David Granger: Thank you, Master of Ceremonies; Honourable Ministers of the Government; members of the National Assembly; members of the Diplomatic Corps; Regional Chairman, Mr. Gordon Bradford; Mayor of the town of Bartica, Your Worship Mr. Gifford Marshall; Deputy Mayor, Ms. Kamal Lochan-Persaud; visiting mayors; councillors, residents of the town of Bartica; special invitees; members of the media; fellow Guyanese.
Today, I am filled with joy. In the beginning, before Portuguese came to this land, before East Indians came to this land, before Chinese came to this land there was Bartica.
Bartica was established as a mission, 185 years ago. Bartica is a blessed place. It was conceived and established to further the work of God and I pray that today, as Bartica celebrates its elevation to township, it will continue to carry out the work of God in the spirit in which it was founded 185 years ago.
Bartica has always been regarded as one of the finest settlements in our country and in 1887 an Ordinance was actually passed to make Bartica a town. What happened between 1887 and 2016 I cannot explain but, as far as I am concerned, Bartica always deserved to be a town and whatever happened was a historical error, a great travesty. Bartica is always in my heart.
The church of St. John the Baptist was established a hundred and eighty-five years ago, and tomorrow I will join you, the residents of Bartica, in worshipping there, the first church at which I worshipped. As I told you before, my sister, when she was dying in Canada, instructed her daughter that her ashes must be brought back to Bartica and my own wife could tell you that, soon after our marriage when she was pregnant, I had to bring her to Golden Beach at Bartica.
That is what Bartica means and today I’m filled with emotion as Bartica has finally come of age. You are a town now. This is your moment to dazzle the rest of Guyana. History is being made here. Instead of being the third, you are now the seventh town in Guyana and you should all be proud of your achievement and I congratulate you.
I congratulate the generations who have passed this way, who have struggled to maintain high standards in Bartica and to ensure that Bartica is worthy of being made a town. Bartica, of course, is central to the development of our entire country, not only because of its antiquity but because of its economy.
For the last hundred years Bartica has been known as the gateway to the hinterland, the gateway to our gold, our diamonds and our timber. Bartica is now a ‘capital’ town. It is the capital of a region which is larger than the Netherlands, a region over 48,000 square kilometres. If the Cuyuni region was a country, it would be bigger than most of the islands in the Caribbean and Bartica is now in the driver’s seat. Bartica is a well-laid-out community, with its avenues and its streets.
Bartica possesses everything that it needs to be a capital; it has its own aerodrome, it has its banks, churches, hotels, hospital, market, post-office, police-stations, schools, television-stations, electricity and water supply; there is no good reason why Bartica had to he held back so long, but now that is history, we look to the future.
Bartica is a capital town; this means that you must lead not just the community of 15,000 persons here, but the entire region. Guyana is organized at the governmental level – at three distinct strata; there is the central government represented here by the minsters and by myself; in the regional government represented here by the Regional Chairman Mr. Gordon Bradford and his Council and the RDC and there is the municipal level – the third level, the level that you voted for last March, with your own mayor, deputy mayor and councillors.
But this last week I spent in Washington DC attending one of the most important conferences I have ever attended in my life, and this has reinforced in my mind the conviction that Guyana has to move more quickly to develop a green economy and Bartica is to lead the way. Bartica is to become our first green town.
Bartica is going to lead the way in solar energy; it is going to lead the way in electrical vehicles; it’s going to lead the way in wind energy; it is going to lead the way in solid waste management; it’s going to lead the way in recycling. Bartica is going to become a laboratory for Guyana’s green economy.
I would like to see students from all over the country. I’d like to see residents from other countries coming to Bartica to learn how to be green. Every school, every hospital, every police station, every government building has to move quickly over the next four years to adapting sustainable sources of energy- renewable energy. No more addiction to gasoline and dieseline; we are moving to clean energy.
So Bartica must lead the way. It must be a model town for our green economy, showing all other towns, all other regions how Guyana would supply enough energy without depending on fossil fuels – gasoline and dieseline and kerosene. Bartica must become the motor, the motor to transform Guyana onto a platform of a sustainable green development.
Last year on the 3rd October, of all the places in this country that I could choose, something drew me to Bartica to launch our first National Tree Day. In years to come, Mr. Mayor, as I walk down the first avenue we will be seeing LED lights, you’ll be seeing trees. Bartica will become a really green town: every street, every avenue will be surrounded by green.
(Thank you for that clap) and Bartica, apart from being a model, apart from being a motor, must become a magnet for economic growth, a magnet for attracting investment.
We will get rid of that terrible little benab at the airstrip and we will have a modern Bartica municipal aerodrome – air-conditioned with solar air-conditioners so that investors will come from all around the Caribbean to fly into Bartica aerodrome, bringing bags of money to develop the resources of this great region.
So we see this region, led by Bartica, as resting on four essential pillars:
The first of course is energy: Green-energy in everything we do; every school, every hospital, every laboratory, every-street light to be powered by renewable energy. And your environment – I’m glad to see that the Mayor and the Deputy Mayor were leading the way in removing that detestable solid waste Styrofoam from your beautiful community. And that is a good lesson for you Bartica, the difference between dictatorship and democracy. It never happened under the IMC. Now it happened because the people you want to guide the destiny of Bartica were freely elected and they will deliver that economy and the environment of which you could be proud.
So tourists will be happy to come here in order to enjoy the benefits of this environment; and a few hours ago I was over in River’s View and I presented yet another vehicle to allow children to go to school. That is a school boat and I presented that school boat because we believe in equality. Bartica is not bush. Children of Bartica, children of River’s View, children of the Cuyuni-Mazaruni Region must have equal opportunity just as children in Georgetown or Corriverton or any other place in Guyana.
I was here before in March to present a bus and bicycles and more will be coming; so every child from Bartica will be able to go to school. Every child from Bartica having gone to school will be able, not to seek employment with the police force or the defence force, but self-employment, exploiting the abundant natural resources of this great region.
Timber – making furniture, people coming here to buy the best furniture in South America. Jewellery- people coming to Bartica because you have the best jewellers; so let us see that what we are doing here today will be the spring board for a new generation of entrepreneurs – young residents growing up not necessarily opposed to the people who are here already, the Brazilians and the Chinese, but side by side leading Barticians to develop their own economy to become rich and to enjoy the good life in this green region.
So this is your task Mr. Mayor. This is the task of your council – to lead Bartica not only as a beacon to your residents and to generations to come but also to re-lead the rest of Guyana, so that people can come here and see the model that you have adapted for your development and, more than that, Bartica being part of our hinterland – a gateway to our hinterland. You will be able to show the rest of this region the beauties of the biggest CARICOM State, the beauties of the most beautiful CARICOM State and the beauties of the most bountiful CARICOM State, the Cooperative Republic of Guyana.
May God bless you Bartica! Thank you for your leadership, thank you for your courage in staying a course. Thank you for participating in the democratic process in March that can lead you to the establishment of a town council which is responsive to your needs, to the needs of this country and to the needs of the entire Caribbean community.
May God bless you!
I thank you.