President David Granger: Thank you madam chair. As you know we are working towards getting a proper bridge for Berbice so in years to come the bridge wouldn’t be opening and closing, the bridge will be open all the time.
Chairperson, Honourable Minister of Social Protection, Ms. Volda Lawrence; Members of the Opposition; Chairman of the East Berbice-Corentyne Region, Mr. David Armogan; Mayor of this dynamic town, Rose Hall, Mr. Vijay Ramoo; Town Clerk, Ms. [Natasha] Monroe (Is that the singing Town Clerk or a different Town Clerk? She doesn’t sing. You don’t sing?). You know when I hear names in the Corentyne I get worried; anybody here named Ross, put your hand up? No, Ross? They got about twelve Ross names on that plaque there. Oh, you are a Ross, alright. He was a strong man because there are twelve people there on that plaque named Ross; must read it before you go home. Residents of Rose Hall; special invitees; members of the media:
I was very happy to see so many young people come out on this parade and are here today. I hope every one of them has gotten a little button and that button has got four words on it – ‘Every Child in School’ and that is the motto that I would like to remind all the children about.
They have a little green button marked ‘Every Child in School’ but this is a small town with a big heart as you said; it is also a small town with a big parade. I can’t remember seeing such a big parade in any town; so congratulations all of you who participated in the parade.
Today is a double celebration. We’re not only celebrating Rose Hall becoming a town, but as you can see that monument celebrates the actual purchase of Rose Hall in1842 by those fifty-seven persons; not rich people, not university graduates.
People who only four years before had come out of enslavement, come out of a crime against humanity, a crime that prevented them from getting education, a crime that prevented them from marrying, prevented them from owning property; but they had common sense.
They weren’t spendthrifts, they weren’t drunkards, they weren’t wastrels, they were people who had the foresight to save their money in only four years and buy a plantation and that plantation became a village and that village became a town and this town is going to lead the commercial revolution in East Berbice-Corentyne. A town which was started by fifty-seven people, who were prepared to save their money in order that their children and grandchildren won’t have to go back into slavery, would not have to go back into poverty.
So today, I am glad to be here to congratulate Rose Hall not only on becoming a town, but on becoming part of that important movement – the village movement, a most fantastic development in the history, not only of our country but in our region. Between 1838 and 1848 in that decade about sixteen thousand persons, who had previously been enslaved, were able to buy hundreds of hectares of land to transform Guyana from what used to be a plantation into a nation.
Before 1838, all we had was a string of plantations from Skeldon all the way to Charity, but it was because of the village movement that we now have a nation. When I was here a few weeks ago, I reminded Corentyne that this was the real day, the 1st August, 1838 when this nation was born because on that day we were able to welcome immigrants from India who are now, today, the most popular part of this nation.
We were able to welcome immigrants from Portugal, from Madeira in Portugal. We were able to welcome immigrants from China and this particular region is fortunate that today, we have descendants of the Indigenous peoples – the Amerindians, the Africans, the Chinese, the Portuguese; all combining to make Guyana a beautiful country, but it all happened because of the 1st August, 1838 when people were brought from the continents of earth in order to toil on these plantations. But today we are free people and we honour and pay a homage to our forefathers who had the foresight to buy this village and we pay homage to those fifty-seven pioneers – and please invite me back next year when we celebrate the 175th anniversary of the purchase of this village – not only in making it a town but the purchase of a plantation, which we were able to make into a village.
This was bought and paid for not from Central Housing and Planning Authority, not from the Ministry of Housing and Water, but through the blood and sweat of your fore parents; so do not ever forget their sacrifices, do not forget their struggles as we go forward in building this great nation.
Rose Hall itself is a symbol of liberation, a symbol of what ordinary literate people could do, much less people now who have the opportunity and that is why I have given children these little buttons – ‘Every Child in School’, so that they look forward to a future but at the same time they look back to the struggle of their fore parents. As you know, as you have heard, Rose Hall is the smallest town, but I just want to let you know that the movement for building towns has not ended.
This year alone, 2016, we were able to build three new towns for the first time in forty-five years because we see what Rose Hall was able to do with township status. We see that when you empower the residents and the citizens they can turn backwardness into progress and I want to see the example of Rose Hall replicated all over this country and that is why in March we were able to go back to the polls and empower the residents of Rose Hall to elect their own Mayor, Mr. Ramoo, and this is what I want to see happening in every single region of Guyana.
East Berbice-Corentyne is lucky – the only region with three towns, but every single region must be headed and guided by a capital town and that is why now, Rose Hall has led the way. But Region One has a town; Region Two has a town – Anna Regina; Region One is Mabaruma; Region Three is going to have a town; Region Four is going to have a town; Region Five is going to have a town; Region Six has three towns; Region Seven has Bartica Town; Region Eight is going to get a town called Mahdia; Region Nine has a town called Lethem and Region Ten has a town called Linden. Every region must have a town because I believe that what you have been doing here in Rose Hall must be done in all of the other regions. The other regions must follow Rose Hall’s example- small town with a big heart.
My brothers and sisters, I have come today to share with you this moment of pride. Rose Hall is a powerful commercial dynamo in what is the third largest region in this country; a region that is bigger than Belgium, a region that is bigger than Belize, a region that is three or four times the size of Jamaica or Trinidad. This is a region with potential and I want to work with the Mayor of Rose Hall to unlock that potential. I want to work with the Chairman of Region Six, Mr. David Permaul Armogan to develop this great region.
Today, we have three levels of government here: Ms. Volda Lawrence represents central government, I represent central government; Mr. Armogan represents regional government and Mr. Ramoo represents municipal government. All three levels of government have to work together. We can’t pull apart, we can’t fight mattie, we have to work together if we are to develop this country and I have committed myself to this town, to this region, just as I have committed myself to this country and I’m going to keep on coming back here in order to assure residents of this town and this region that the central government is behind you.
I have no interest in trying to stifle the growth of municipality. There is going to be no IMC under David Granger. You will have your elected representatives and year after next, in 2018 December, if you don’t like what Mr. Ramoo is doing, throw him out and put in another Ramoo, but you must decide who you want to run Rose Hall, who you want to run this region and I’m glad to hear what he says because on the 1st October is National Tree Day and on that day I want to see all the residents of Rose Hall…out planting trees…. I’m asking the mayor to get seedlings and plant some cool trees. I want to see avenues; I want to see beautiful trees; I want to see a municipal park all in Rose Hall. So 1st of October is a Saturday, don’t forget, put on your short pants and come out … plant up Rose Hall; let Rose Hall be a ‘green’ town.
You know as Minister Lawrence and I were sitting here just now we saw this convoy passing by, a convoy of trucks taking paddy or rice. This is a blessed region; this is one of the most productive regions in the entire country – the rice you produce, the fish you produce…. This is the only Region that actually touches another CARICOM State, Suriname. This Region has the potential; as the mayor has said, look at the banks, look at the business places; you can be the commercial hub and I hope one day, right here in Rose Hall, you have a commercial college and as I have said, over and over again, I want … this region [to] have a Corentyne Action Plan, which will propel the business; will propel the commerce; which will propel industries and make this region a rich region.
I agree with you. I agree with you, I agree with Mr. Foster that there are some setbacks, that there are some problems, there are some negatives and I agree with the saying that ‘happy people don’t kill themselves’; so we have to find out what the problem is. I’m not blaming Corentyne because when you go into some areas you don’t see poverty, you see comfort – if a young lady could leave East Canje and hire a special car to go to Ogle to get a seat on a plane, to go to Kaieteur Falls to jump off, she is not mad, she is not stupid, she is not poor. So we have to find out what the problem is and let us work with the region – Mr. Foster let us work with the Rose Hall community; let us work with Black Bush Polder; let us work with the municipality to make suicide history. If there are problems in the schools; if there are problems in the home; if there are problems in the masjid or the mandir or the church; if there are problems in the township, let us find out what those problems are so we will have a happy region and a happy town, a happy municipality.
My brothers and sisters, Rose Hall is on the move. I just ask for two things; one is to put more focus on education. If you go on the East Bank Berbice; if you go along the coast going to the polders you will find that there is a lot of unemployment among young people. I am not a doctor, I am not a psychiatrist, but part of the problem is joblessness and we have to find jobs for young people.
Education is one of the solutions that if people go to school and they have good careers they are unlikely to become poor or unemployed and they are unlikely to kill themselves. What I would like to ask is that education be geared to providing people with work; not getting work with the GDF or the police, they can march ‘good’ but the pay is small.
What I want you to do is to become rich by working for yourselves and this government will help you to work for yourselves and it is particularly because of that that education is going to be the spring board to employment in this region because everything you produce you will be able to market if you have the education. The rice you produce okay – is nice to have fried rice and boiled rice and stew rice and curry rice, but you can make rice crispies, you can make all sort of products from rice.
There is one country in East Asia I visited – the national drink is made from rice. So you can use rice to make cereals and other products which could be exported across the river; front track, back track, side track – any track and into the Eastern Caribbean. If you produce timber from your grants, from the Corentyne and in the river, let Rose Hall be a centre for furniture; a centre for making wood products; a centre for making doors and panelling.
I remember years ago when I was studying at the University of the West Indies a lecturer came to me, he was building a house; he wants me to help him to get Guyanese wooden doors. So our businesses shouldn’t be importing wood, we should be manufacturing and exporting wood products to the Caribbean. With education you could go into other fields of employment and the other day, the 1st July, I was across this creek y’all have here – Corentyne Creek – speaking to the President of Suriname. Let me tell you this, residents of Rose Hall – Guyana and Suriname together are bigger than Germany.
We must not sit on our hands. We must not let our resources be idle. We can use these resources to enrich our young people; to educate our young people; to empower our young people; to employ our young people – that is what Rose Hall is all about. It is about economics, about education and employment, empowerment; so do not allow your resources to remain idle while our young people are idle – the grass is growing but the horse is starving.
The future is about youth and if we are to have a future in Rose Hall it must be an economic future and we have to think about how our youth will be employed. Corentyne is fortunate; it’s the only region outside of Region Four which has a campus of the University of Guyana. That campus could become a commercial campus – universities are not about studying the stars and the sky and moon; it’s about giving people the type of education to enable them to live full lives.
So gradually let us combine with our diaspora to help to put in the University of Guyana at Tain Campus the types of programmes and the types of curriculum which would enable young people to stay in this great region rather than migrating. I don’t know why people leaving this region to go and walk down Liberty Avenue. When you walk down Liberty Avenue – oh where you from? Oh, I’m from Black Bush, I’m from Bush Lot. Oh where you from? I’m from Hampshire. I say this place is like Berbice, but is really Liberty Avenue. Why is the population of Berbice declining when the region is so rich in resources?
So let us use education, let us use the institutions such as the universities and the schools and the colleges to develop that particular character of Berbice which is the commercial or the business acumen.
So my brothers and sisters I feel very happy to come here today to share – I can see the pride and the pleasure of the region, of the municipality, of the residents but let us also work to make sure that this town and this region is safe. You notice, (take it easy, take it easy my brother) you notice that some of you can’t even remember when last you had a piracy attack; it is because your government is flying along this coast to make sure that your fishermen are safe from piracy; we are working quietly.
In a few weeks you will see some horses patrolling the backdam of this region to make sure that the type of murder we had in Black Bush does not reoccur. We are concerned. In a few days or hours’ time you will see a programme is going to be launched to make these roads safer because we are concerned with safety and security, we are working quietly to make sure this region and this municipality could be considered a safe destination for investors.
I agree with the mayor, we have to look at solid waste management. I want this town to be a sanitary town, the cleanest town in the region. You got the Mayor of Georgetown here; she is working hard too, but let’s have an inter-municipality cleanliness competition see which is going to be the cleanest town but people will not come into this town if it is dirty.
A dirty town is going to facilitate disease. When the trenches and the gutters and the canals can’t be cleared, mosquitoes will breed and that is how you get chikungunya and that’s how you get dengue; that’s how you get malaria, that’s how you get filaria and that’s how you get zika. That is why these towns have to be sanitary to make sure that they don’t have breeding grounds for vectors such as mosquitoes, which transmit vector borne diseases; but most of all, my brothers and sisters this must be a smart town.
Every child must go to school. Every street in this town, people must be able to boast next year when you celebrate the 175th anniversary of the purchase of Rose Hall, Mr. Mayor, Mr. Regional Chairman, Mr. Minister or Miss Minister as the case may be – every single child in my street goes to school.
It was beautiful this afternoon to see the mother of seven; that is what I expect the municipality to do, help people to help themselves to keep their children in school. From time to time you will see a yellow bus coming up and down the street- you all ever see a yellow bus? It name David who? David G. It is taking children to and from school; saving children thousands of dollars every single week because I want children to go to school and people from Corentyne helped to buy those buses.
My wife came up here and gave out bicycles; people from Corentyne helped to buy those bicycles because we want every child to go to school but I want you the mothers to make a vow that as long as you can afford it, even if you can’t afford it, get your child in school; somebody is going to help you.
They got one set of people name Foster and Ross in this town. Somebody is going to help you to get your child to school that is what we want to see. So give yourself a pledge over the next twelve months before we come here in September next year; August next year, the purchase anniversary of this town and you must be able to say, “in my street not a child skulking from school; not a child is truant; not a child stays away from school; every child in school”. That is the motto.
My brothers and sisters this is my simple message to you. You belong to a huge region; a ‘green’ region. Some of you have never penetrated the depth of this region. You have stayed here on the coast but you also have one of the biggest savannahs, the intermediate savannahs, the Berbice savannahs. You also have the wetlands in the Canje, behind Canje, and those wetlands have some of the most precious biodiversity. Without that biodiversity – the caimans, the snakes, the manatees, the Canje pheasant- life would be more difficult or more intolerable.
Tourists are going to pay to come to see your flora and fauna. As I told the Regional Chairman the other day, he must make sure that people don’t eat manatee pepperpot in this region anymore, manatee souse; I don’t know if they still got manatee left. Whenever I go up Canje I look for the manatee because Canje used to be the home (All they eat out; all they eat out? All yuh must try some pork man, fish, you don’t eat out the manatee.). Canje Pheasant- a rare bird; whenever I go up to Barakara I looking to see Canje Pheasant but tourists are prepared to come so you have the potential for an eco-tourist industry.
Energy. You know, I grow up at Whim and when I grew up at Whim all the rice farmers, not the farmers, the millers, all of them had wind chargers because [in] those days they didn’t have generator. (I hope when I come next year no generator not running in the background there.) I want to see clean energy; solar power, wind power. Too many people addicted to gasoline in this country. It is an addiction, it’s a bad habit.
What I want to see is what I saw sixty and seventy years ago – farmers using wind power, solar power like my watch – solar. All I got to do is wear this watch in the sun and it will work forever. You don’t have to buy gasoline, we can use wind, you can use sun power and you have a rich sugar industry, you can produce ethanol. You have biogas from the bagasse, which is a waste product and I’m sure that the scientist will find some use for busi to generate energy. So you know not to think only of solar power, wind power, you can also think about biomass in order to generate energy so that we can get ourselves off of this addiction to fuel.
My message to you Rose Hall is one of hope. My message to you is a message for the future for your children. My message to you is to continue what you have been doing for the last forty-six years. The work that was started by your forefathers who took a plantation and made it into a village; you have taken a village and made it into a town and I am asking the mayor, with your support, the support of the region, to work with the central government to make this town into the commercial capital of East Berbice-Corentyne.
God bless you Rose Hall!

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