Georgetown, Guyana – (February 17, 2018) President David Granger, yesterday, committed to ensuring that the residents of Whitewater Creek, Barima-Waini (Region One) receive enhanced services in the areas of education, infrastructural development and citizenship as he announced that a new ferry has been procured for the region, committed to delivering a school boat and other educational services and ensuring that a team from the Ministry of Citizenship is dispatched to the area to achieve total registration in that village and surrounding communities.
In his address to residents at a community meeting, the President said that investments in education coupled with the development of the physical infrastructure and stimulation of the economy through increased agricultural activity, particularly agro-processing will play a leading role in the transformation of the region and the country. In this regard, the President, who spoke of his ‘Five B’s’ or “Boats, Buses and Bicycles plus Breakfast and Books’ programme and his National Endowment for Science and Technology (NEST), said that these programmes are part of Government’s efforts to ensure that every Guyanese child has access to an education, as it is only through education that they can gain employment and become empowered, thereby contributing to the growth and development of Guyana.
Whitewater already benefits from a 15 seater school bus under the Five ‘B’s programme, which takes secondary school students to school in Mabaruma and in addition to committing to providing a school boat and engine, President Granger said that he will explore options to determine the possibility of providing another bus.
“From no school buses to 27. Similarly, there are a dozen boats; Pomeroon River has a boat, Essequibo river has a boat, Demerara River has a boat, Berbice River has a boat and, if you need a boat, if you need a boat here I promise you that I will provide a boat for your children to go to school. So I can tell you for sure that anything that is concerned with education, especially the school boat, I call it a school boat, is guaranteed. I cannot be happy, as President, to know that children are locked away in the village because they have to paddle two hours to go to school. That makes me very unhappy so my staff will work to get you a boat engine and the Regional Chairman is going to make sure that that boat and engine are delivered so that children can go to school. I have to sit down with the Chairman to look at the bus transport to see if we can improve that and most important the road, which is a big bother. Every child must go to school,” he said.
One resident noted that the community is particularly happy with the Five B’s initiative. “We have a bus, which we have all been very happy for because of the many years that our children were suffering to get to school. We are very happy that our children can get to go there freely. We must thank you so much for using that initiative for our children. That is great and that is towards development,” he said to loud applause.
Noting that education is the gateway to a brighter future, President Granger said that it is for this reason that the Government has set up the NEET Programme or ‘Not in Education, Employment or Training’. “Education is very important because without education, nobody will want to employ you. So education is the gateway and believe me; we will work with your Toshao, we will work with the Regional Chairman to improve transportation so you can get education because I am sure that once you get that education, you’ll be able to get better employment, you wouldn’t want to drop out. And let me tell you this, we are going to establish a youth service so that children who do drop out of school, boys and girls, will be able to get training skills so that he or she will be able to get employment. I want every Guyanese to be employed,” he said.
Ms. Kamila Armogan, Village Leader of Wauna, said that she is pleased that the President met with residents and listened to their concerns. “I am happy that our President can come here today where we can discuss and listen to what you have to say. We know that we cannot have everything one time. It comes one at a time. I am happy to hear about your NEET programme because we have a lot of young people here,” she said.
As far as registration is concerned, President Granger said that he will ensure that a team from the Ministry of Citizenship visits Whitewater before mid-year to complete registration services.
“This has been a problem, especially in the riverine areas. When I went into office in May 2015, I created a new Ministry of Citizenship, the first time we’ve had a Ministry of Citizenship because I’m very concerned that every Guyanese should be registered. So give me until the July 1 and that team will be here, in Whitewater, in Region One looking after your registration… Wherever you go, you must have a Guyanese identification card, a Guyanese passport, a Guyanese birth certificate, and here we want to make sure that every single Guyanese is registered. Sometimes you may be living far, you may be up a creek, you may be across the border but we will send in special teams to make sure that there is total registration. Every Guyanese must be registered,” he said.
ICT and Infrastructure
Meanwhile, the President said that Government has been placing heavy emphasis on public infrastructure programmes and Government will continue to work with the regional administration to ensure that Region One gets its fair share of the budget for infrastructural development each year.
In addition to upgrades at the Mabaruma Airstrip, the Ministry of Public Infrastructure is currently conducting works on the Mabaruma road, for the first time in history. Noting that works for 2018 have already been budgeted for, President Granger called on the regional administration to ensure that works for Whitewater and surrounding communities are included in the 2019 National Budget.
Referring to the condition of the road leading from Mabaruma to Whitewater, the President said “we will [sit] down with the Chairman and see what can be done this year in terms of the road, but I’m asking him to put in the budget for next year so we can have an even better road and even greater improvements… I’ve come here to listen to you, I’ve come here to learn from you; I’ve come here to look for myself, to see the conditions under which you’re living so that we can work together,” he said.
Additionally, the President said that communication will also be improved in the area and communities across the country in a phased approach based on available resources. “Over a period of time, every single community in Guyana could be connected and in your schools too, the children will be able to get computers. We can’t build all at the same time, but it’s part of the programme. So communication will be improved,” he said.
In addition to this, President Granger told residents that while he cannot give an exact date for the delivery of the new ferry, one is being procured to service the travellers from the Barima-Waini region to Georgetown and vice versa.
Toshao of Whitewater, Mr. Cleveland DeSouza, in his remarks said that the community is grateful for the visit. “I am very happy to have you here. We are very much thankful to the Government for the improvement of our livelihoods within this part of the country. We are privileged to have our President here with us,” he said.