President David Granger: Thank you. Please be seated; that was an inspired introduction. Madam Chairperson, thank you for your encouragement and your divine interpretation of my being here today.
I’m very happy to be here again, Kwakwani. As you heard before we were in the river – up at Kalkuni – meeting residents of ten communities and today we are happy to be here for the eleventh; at Kwakwani itself.
So Honourable Minister of Social Cohesion, Amna Ally; Honourable Minister in the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Ms. Annette Ferguson; Chairman of Region Ten, Mr. Rennis Morian; members of the RDC and members of the NDC; our donors – the Jagmohan brothers; distinguished invites; residents; parents and most of all the young people of Kwakwani who will be riding in these buses; happy Christmas to you and today you have the best Christmas present you can expect – a bus for you to travel to school in comfort and safety and without paying any money at all. [Applause.]
Just look at that. Any of you have a green exercise book? Wave them, let me see, oh look at freeness; any of you got ballpoint pens? No ballpoint pens? Okay, alright, very good, Kwakwani. Kwakwani, we are here because of Christmas. Christmas is a season of friendship; it is a season of fellowship and as you heard from the chairperson herself it’s a season of faithfulness; and whether you are Hindu, whether you are Muslim, whether you are Christian, we know that this is the festival that we celebrate and commemorate the coming of a child.
He came as a child, not as a grown adult – as a child; not as a rich person drinking wine and wearing jewellery but as a humble child in a manger. A manger is a place where you put fodder for horses and donkeys and mules. It’s the humblest place you can bring a child into the world to rest and that is how Jesus came into this world. So that is the reason for the season. That is the reason why we are here, but the second reason, too, is important to us because that reason concerns you on earth and that is to say that we believe that every single Guyanese child must have a place in school.
I don’t believe in town and country; when it comes to children I don’t believe in PPP and PNC. I don’t believe in tall people and short people; in African and Indian- all Guyanese children are equal. All Guyanese children are equal and we will go into every river, every creek, into the highways and byways to provide bicycles and buses and boats for children to get to school because we here, the adults, have to hand over this country to you and we want to hand over this country in a better condition that we inherited it and we have to give you the education and the training and the preparation for you to take control of this country and this is why we are doing this today.
So first of all, let me tell you what this bus is about. This bus is about equality. This bus is to ensure that every Guyanese child, whether the child is at Coomacka or Kwakwani or Port Mourant or Anna Regina, that child has an equal opportunity to get to school. There is no reason why one child should have to paddle a canoe for one hour to get to school while somebody must be able to, must have to go by bus – maybe on the highway – the Linden – Soesdyke Highway – travel one hour and pay $5,000 every week to go to school that is not equality; it means that the child who is living two or three hundred yards from school will not have to pay those costs.
And let me tell you the secret behind these boats and these buses. When I was campaigning four years ago, I went up into the Pomeroon, the river, and a father told me his child was paying $5,000 a week to go to school- Charity Secondary School; $5,000 a week; that can’t be fair for one child in the Pomeroon River to be paying so much and a child living in Kingston or Cummings Lodge doesn’t have to pay the same fee. So we want, first of all, to give children of Guyana an equal opportunity so they get equal access to education; that’s why we’re here; no town and country, no bush and city, just giving you a fair break; it is up to you now to make use of this opportunity because we believe that if all Guyanese children are educated this country will develop much more quickly.
We believe that with education you will be able to make use of these resources. A few weeks ago I was in Linden, declaring open the arch. We’ve been producing bauxite in this country for a hundred years and there’s enough bauxite under your feet for us to go on producing bauxite for another hundred years.
The point I’m making is that you all have to develop the skills, the expertise, in order to exploit the riches of this country and if you don’t have an education you won’t be able to do it. So I want to see coming out of Kwakwani – engineers and lawyers and doctors, botanists, zoologists. So don’t feel that you have to drop out of school; every year in Guyana, 4000 children drop out of school. I don’t want you to drop out of school. That’s why we’ve asked our friends to donate these buses, so you don’t have to drop out of school.
Every child must go to school and we are confident that once you get that education you will then want to go not only from primary to secondary school but from secondary school to university; from university you’ll open companies, contracting companies, you will become engineers, build bridges and highways. You will be able to develop this great country- bauxite, manganese, gold, diamonds; you’ll be able to extract timber more sustainably.
So it is education that will give you that opportunity to engage in private enterprise and I want to see you becoming businesspersons. Don’t believe that bauxite can only be mined by Chinese and Russians and the Americans and Canadians. You can do it! You can set up enterprises if you had the education and you had the opportunity.
So that is the third thing I want to leave with you – enterprise. You must become more enterprising. This country together with Suriname – and you know from the newspapers I met the President of Suriname last week Friday, the 16 – and Guyana and Suriname together are the size of Germany. Guyana and Suriname together are bigger than Japan.
We are the biggest country in the Caribbean, and we are confident that we can produce everything that not only we Guyanese need to eat but we can produce for the Caribbean as well and that is why I want to see in this Berbice River — I don’t want to hear about farmers throwing the pumpkins in the river because they don’t have a market — I want to see production in this river, the Berbice River, but I also want us to adapt clean energy, sustainable energy.
You see how y’all fanning, y’all hiding under umbrella? This is energy. Once we start putting solar panels on the roofs of these buildings you will get energy to generate not only light but you will be able to produce electricity so that you can run these enterprises I’m talking about.
So every single thing you produce- every cassava, every pumpkin, every breadfruit you can change into breadfruit chips and cassava chips and you’ll be able to sell those chips in the supermarkets and you will be able to stay right here in the Berbice River and get rich; that’s what I mean by enterprise — not just going to work for somebody else but to work for yourself by producing food on the ground that God has given this country.
We’re a blessed country, you know; anybody who has been to some of the little islands would know we’re a blessed country and you have to make use of the natural bounty which God has placed in your hands.
So today I am not just launching a bus, I am not just thanking our donors, I am not giving you comfort to go to school but I am opening a window of opportunity for you to become better than your parents and grandparents were. You could go to school and after you leave school go to university, qualify and help to develop not only your country and your community but also develop yourself. You could become rich, remaining right here in Kwakwani producing food for the rest of the country and the Caribbean Community.
So, my brothers and sisters, boys and girls, this is my message to you. This bus is a vehicle to take you from poverty to prosperity. This bus is a means to take you from ignorance to education. This bus is a means of self-emancipation.
It’s a means to ensure that you can have long and productive lives right here in this region. This region – I love this region. I mean I’ve had some challenges but I love this region. This is the only region in the country that straddles three rivers: Demerara, Essequibo and Berbice. Y’all are the region of three rivers; somebody give me an ‘amen’. Oh, you’re waiting for the chairperson to come and pray again.
This region straddles three rivers; if you want to get to Region Seven, pass through Region Ten; want to get to Region Nine pass through Region Ten. You want to get to Region Six pass through Region Ten. You want to get to Region Four pass through Region Ten. Y’all are the belly button of Guyana. So, we want development and this bus is a tool for development.
Madam Chairperson, boys and girls, today I come to deliver this gift today with the assistance of our donor friends and I’d like to thank you for coming out. It’s better to bear the sun that to bear the rain; right?
So may God bless you all!
May you have a happy Christmas and please care this bus!
Thank you.

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