President David Granger: Thank you. Please be seated… Thank you for your kind introduction Mr. David Fraser. Madam Chairperson, Honourable Minister of Social Cohesion, Ms. Amna Ally; Regional Executive Officer, Mr. Veerasammy Ramayya; members of the Regional Democratic Council who could make it today. I regret the absence of the Chairman; I hope he’s well.
Special invitees, particularly, we’d like to welcome and thank Ms. Mohamed whose father I think was a major, if not the sole contributor to acquiring this bus. My dear Fiona Mohamed, she is becoming quite a brave poetess; I think we should give her a special round of applause for the “Three Bs’ Project”. Teachers, students, residents of this town, I always say you know Region Six, the Corentyne region, East Berbice-Corentyne is perhaps one of the most fortunate regions. It’s got three towns, some regions have got no towns and you’ve got three. I’d like to welcome and, thank you for welcoming me too, into this beautiful town of Rose Hall and members of the media, thank you all for coming out this morning.
This is a powerful region. East Berbice-Corentyne is bigger than Belgium; East Berbice- Corentyne is bigger than Belize, and East Berbice-Corentyne is bigger than Burundi. If y’all were a country, you all would have been one of the biggest countries. I believe in this region. I grew up here for a part of my upbringing; part of my childhood at Whim and I attended the Auchlyne Church of Scotland Primary School. I worshipped at Port Mourant at the St. Joseph Anglican Church, but my commitment to Berbice was far beyond my own personal experiences. East Berbice-Corentyne touches another Caribbean state. In fact only two Caribbean states share a border, Guyana and Suriname, and we push East Berbice-Corentyne in front so that you are the only region in the entire Caribbean which touches another Caribbean state, the state of Suriname.
You have so much potential. You are the sugar bowl of the country; you are the rice pot of the country; you are the fish market of the country and we look to East Berbice-Corentyne to lead the economic recovery of our whole country, but you can only play that leadership role if you have an educated population. You can only play that leadership role if you have talented and skilled people in this region, and that is why I’m here today because our Government is concerned about human development. Our Government is concerned about you, the children.
Our Government is concerned about the talents because without the skills, without the talent, without the intellectual capability we cannot develop this region, develop this country. And I go around Guyana, I am disappointed to learn there are over 4,000 children dropping out of school every year. I speak to their parents; I speak to the children; why they drop out? Because of transport; they can’t get to school.
In East Berbice-Corentyne many children don’t go to school because of transportation. In the Pomeroon-Supenaam Region some children who have places in Charity Secondary School do not take up their places because they can’t afford the transportation; they have to pay $3,000 or $4,000 per week a week. In the Mahaica-Berbice Region, Region Five, children attending Berbice High School here in New Amsterdam can’t afford the transportation. Many of them just stay home, they drop out of school.
Well, we are robbing ourselves of talent if we cannot get our children to school and I am very grateful for this donation because during the campaign we promised to do everything we could to get children to school; when it’s by river they must go by boat, if it’s by road they must go by bus, if it’s a little shorter distance they must go by bicycle but we want every child in school; that’s our motto. So the bus you’re receiving today is not education but it will help you to get the education that you need to develop yourselves and to develop this great region. This region is only part of a matrix. A country that is well developed is made up of regions, the region is made up of communities and communities are made up of neighbourhoods and villages.
In this very region there are 96 communities and we want to make sure that in every single community, every neighbourhood, every municipality our children can get to school and I want every parent here today, every would-be councillor, every villager, every adult to leave here with one promise on their lips; that I will do everything in my power to make sure children get to school. If I can afford it, I know there’s a child in my village, there’s a child in my street who is not going to school because he has no breakfast or because they have no transport. If you see children liming about ask them why they’re not in school and try to help them get to school. You will see the difference in East Berbice-Corentyne.
So my brothers and sisters of Rose Hall Town, the first priority is education. I am convinced that once we overcome the problem of education, once children are educated at primary level they will want to go on to secondary level and you are lucky, because no other region, other than Region Four has a University of Guyana campus and you have in East Berbice-Corentyne, and I want to see the children.
I want to come back 15 years from now when Fiona Mohamed invites me to her graduation at Tain Campus. What you say there, Fiona? Fiona, give me an amen. Alright! So let us look at this as just one step along the way, from primary to secondary, from secondary to university and believe me, once children stick in the education system they are not going to drop out. They are not going to be willing to commit suicide; they’re not going to be liming at the street corner; they are going to make the next step and that next step is the step of employment.
I walked these roads you know. I’m not a stranger. Granger is not a stranger. I walked these roads and a young woman, who graduated from Tain Campus came up to me and said, “Mr Granger” – I ain’t even ask her which party she come from, I was in the Opposition still – but she was a see-far woman and she still couldn’t get a job, but I believe that educated people could look to self-employment because this region can generate employment for educated people.
When you look around at what you produce, your sugar, your rice, your fruit, your vegetables, your meat, your fish. You can employ yourselves as business persons exporting coconut water, exporting frozen fish, exporting fruit juice, exporting guava jam, guava cheese, guava jelly, exporting honey.
If you have the education you don’t need to go and look for ‘lil wuk’, you can provide your own employment; if you have no education you’re going to look to work for people. But if you are educated you can set up your own enterprise, at the same time, you enrich yourself, you become a business person and that is what I want to see happening in this region, the East Berbice- Corentyne Region.
I want to see a strong region where planes are landing at Skeldon and Rose Hall and Canje airstrip, bringing in business men from Barbados and from Suriname. They come to buy so many tonnes of rice, so many tonnes of sugar, they come to buy your produce. I see a strong region, businessmen coming from all over the world to buy your produce and you as entrepreneurs making deals, selling produce, enriching yourself and your region and your country.
So this bus will take you far, not just to Gibraltar; it will take you to the land of prosperity; it will take you to the land of private enterprise; it will help you to open markets; not black markets, not backtracking, not smuggling markets, but legitimate markets where you can sell your produce. So this bus is so important to me.
As the Minister of Social Cohesion has told you in less than a month from now we will embark on a very important exercise. Many of you, right here this morning, have never voted in a Local Government Elections in your life. Local Government Elections will be held because they are about empowerment. And what do I mean by empowerment? I mean you will be able to make decisions about how New Amsterdam is governed, about how Rose Hall is governed; about how Corriverton is governed, how all these NDCs in this great region are governed.
Everything that happens to you, as soon as you put your foot out your door is about local government. Whether you getting bite by mosquito, zika, chikungunya, big foot, malaria, dengue, all these diseases are brought by mosquitoes; if your neighbourhood is insanitary, if you don’t have the ability to remove solid waste you are going to suffer and that is why we need strong NDCs, strong municipalities, and that is why this Government has struggled to ensure that we put power back into your hands in the form of Local Government Elections.
Since 1994 we have not had elections, but in 30 days’ time we will have elections. You will elect your own councillors because you will have the power, we will empower you and if they don’t perform, move them and put people who are concerned about your welfare. I want to see ‘green’ towns, clean towns, serene towns, safe towns, and you have that power. I patrolled the streets of Georgetown. I picketed Mr. Donald Ramotar’s office demanding Local Government Elections and now that I am where he was I will give you Local Government Elections. [Applause.]
We changed places. So ladies and gentlemen, residents of Rose Hall Town, these are my messages to you. First of all the message of education; this is not for children and teachers. This is for every single adult. A woman once said it takes a village to bring up a child. Well it is the responsibility of the whole village, responsibility of the whole town, responsibility of the whole region to bring up our children. Let us not see any more children liming because they don’t have transport, children at home ten, eleven o’clock in the morning because they don’t have breakfast. Education is the most important thing we can give our children next to food, clothing and shelter – education.
Employment is the most important thing for young people and they can only get employment if they have a good education. You don’t want to employ somebody who can’t even spell boat, can’t spell cat, can’t spell dog and there’re many young people like that. They wear stud in their ears, they got gold teeth and can’t spell rat because they dropped out of school. Let us give them a chance. We give the whole town a chance through empowerment.
We give all of East Berbice-Corentyne a chance to embark on a road of economic prosperity through private enterprise. So we want you to see this vehicle, this yellow bus as being a bus that can take you on the road to prosperity and I’d like to thank the business persons who came on board because this is not a cost for the treasury and the people who have contributed to the acquisition of this bus are contributing to the development of Guyana, and are contributing to the development of Guyana’s most important asset, it’s children.
You know, East Berbice-Corentyne has suffered a lot over the years. I don’t want to tell you why you suffered because I have my own reasons. That is why I put myself in this place, to bring an end to this suffering. I know about the murders, the rape-murders, the old widows who have been raped and murdered. I feel very unhappy, every single week I meet with the Commissioner of Police to help to solve the security problem. You might have noticed that piracy has gone down. Some of you don’t know why piracy gone down but every month a plane flies from Corriverton to Charity looking for the pirates so many of them are hiding now because we intend to suppress piracy. I walked this road, I speak to the fishermen, and they tell me about the piracy and I promised them that once I got into office I will do everything possible to suppress piracy.
I’m strengthening community policing again because if you hear a man beating his wife, night after night, sooner or later the shouting will stop and the blood will start running. The community must find out if there is domestic violence and bring an end to it. The police must work with the community; the police must work with the neighbourhood.
The communities are going to be strong under this administration, that’s why I established a Ministry of Communities. That’s why I’m emphasising community policing because this is where the problems occur, the widows who get killed in the community; everybody knows she’s living by herself; everybody knows she’s getting money from the grandson in Queens, pushing the money in her mattress, the boys get high and go and rob her and do all sorts of unpleasant things to her, but it takes place in the community. People don’t come from Lethem to rob and rape, people don’t come from Mabaruma…
So the community is the cradle of everything good in this region and what I’ve given you just now my brothers and sisters are ‘Five Es’:
An easy life with:
• Education
• Employment
• Empowerment
• Enterprise
• [Equality]
These are the E’s that are going to give you that good life. I thank you very much Rose Hall for having me here with you today, I congratulate you and I hope that this bus will be joined by other buses by many, many more Mohamed’s to come in the future.
Thank you and may God bless all of you in Rose Hall.

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