Georgetown, Guyana (October 26, 2018) President David Granger, yesterday, in his address declaring Mahdia Guyana’s newest ‘capital’ town charged the residents to vary their economy by pursuing agricultural production and manufacturing among other sectors, in order to diversify their economy. The President said that his vision for Mahdia, Potaro-Siparuni (Region Eight)  now that it is Guyana’s 10th town, is that it becomes a hub for development.

“Today, I am proud, I am pleased to be here in Mahdia to celebrate the launching of Guyana’s 10th town,” he told the large crowd assembled in the Administrative Oval to mark the historic occasion.

“Gold and oil are finite resources…always be prepared to walk on two legs so that you can have a strong agricultural economy. Agriculture should not be ignored, and I urge the new municipal council that will take office after November 12 to ensure that there is a balanced economic development of this vast region, to stimulate employment and reduce this over dependency on gold and encourage investments,” the Head of State said.

The President also said that the concept of regionalisation is not a pipe dream, but the way to develop Guyana from the grassroots level.

“We have embarked today, on one of the most powerful economic changes in the history of Mahdia. First of all, you are installing and embedding democracy in this town,” he said, while adding that democratisation will ensure that every citizen has the opportunity to be involved in the decision-making processes, allowed to speak up and have their voices heard.

He then reminded the gathering that it was the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance for Change (AFC) coalition government when elected to high office in 2015, which returned local democracy to Guyana after a 22-year hiatus.

“People may feel we are making a big song and dance about Local Government Elections (LGE) and with every passing day, I feel that this is one of the most important things to have happened to Guyana in the last half century. These elections are not ornamental, these elections are not a privilege, these elections are a democratic entitlement that you deserve as citizens of Guyana. I cannot prevent General and Regional Elections in 2020, similarly I cannot prevent LGE. My party, my coalition, my colleagues didn’t win in 2016, but we are going again because whichever party wins represents the voice of the people,” he said.

The President told the gathering that Mahdia is advancing like the three other hinterland towns, Bartica in the Cuyuni-Mazaruni (Region Seven); Mabaruma, Barima-Waini (Region One) and Lethem (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo (Region Nine) and he assured that whichever party wins represents a democratic dividend where Guyanese can sit around the table and discuss how their communities function.

“I have seen the changes all over this country,” the President said, adding that “we are not going back, we are going forward with the creation of this township.”

President Granger reminded too that Guyana has for a long time been divided between hinterland and coastland and he is determined that all citizens have equal access to and can enjoy all of the benefits of the nation. “National development is indispensable from democratic government, we cannot develop this country with the old model. We are not going back!” he declared.

While there was much pomp and ceremony for the official town declaration, the President made it clear that after the decorations are taken down, the hard work begins. “Yes, you have to work with the region and the government,” he said, adding that the three tiers of government: the local/municipal, regional and central must work together for the benefit of the nation.

“All three levels have to work together…You have to look at a new model…not one that is based on conflict and confrontation but one that is based on cooperation. Everybody can come around the table to make Mahdia a better place,” he said.

The Head of State then called on Mahdia residents to look towards manufacturing, agricultural production, and commerce among other critical sectors, to reduce their dependency on gold and diamond mining. “You must maintain agricultural production, and you must build the type of balanced economy in which people could produce food profitably to supply the mines and the schools,” he said.

The President said too that Mahdia can export its food while adding that the new town has the potential to generate its own energy relative to solar and wind power. “That solar power, wind power or water power, can help to drive small industries, agro-industries (and) household industries, so that the housekeepers, the housewives, the young people…can produce a range of commodities,” he said.

Meanwhile, Minister of Communities, Mr. Ronald Bulkan said that with its township status Mahdia will no longer be deemed “a landing” noting that the administrative centres of the hinterland regions ought not be administered by villages or by a landing.

As a result, government transformed Mabaruma, Bartica, Mahdia and Lethem into ‘capital’ towns. To date, Minister Bulkan said he has seen “positive physical transformation” which has taken place in the communities since they became towns. “People are beginning to take ownership of their areas. With that comes pride in our surroundings and a greater desire to plan for better conditions,” he said.

Meanwhile, to mark the historic occasion, President Granger, aided by Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Mr. Sydney Allicock; Minister of State, Mr. Joseph Harmon; Minister of Public Infrastructure, Mr. David Patterson; Minister of Social Protection, Ms. Amna Ally; minister Bulkan and regional officials unveiled the Mahdia monument. The monument, which is made from dolerite and was built 9ft below the ground and 13ft above. It weighs 18 tonnes.

The Mayors of Bartica, Mabaruma, Linden and Lethem, Mr. Gifford Marshall, Mr. Henry Smith, Ms. Waneka Arrindell and Mr. Kerry Jarvis respectively also attended the event.

At the close of the ceremony, President Granger, the Ministers and regional officials also commissioned several internal roads in Mahdia.

Additionally, the President handed over 30 bicycles to school children under the Public Education Transport Service (PETS) aimed at ensuring that all children can attend school and have accesses to a good education.

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