In a move that has become known as one of the hallmarks of his presidency, President Dr Irfaan Ali on Friday led a high-level team of government officials to several East Bank of Demerara (EBD) communities, as he continued his progressive outreaches to openly engage citizens on matters affecting them.
His first stop at was Base Road, Timehri where he engaged scores of citizens on a myriad of issues affecting them and their communities.
Citizens with personal issues also had the opportunity to engage one-on-one with respective officials to have them resolved.
One of the main issues raised had to do with agriculture, drainage and irrigation, for which the President ordered a prompt plan be devised to have them addressed.
“[Today], the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works, led by the PSs (Permanent Secretaries) and the senior officers including water and electricity, will be launching a comprehensive review and meetings in every, single one of the communities that raised concerns…they will bring it back to me and within one week, they will come back here to outline to you the course of action that we will take…this includes the Alliance Road bridges, all the incomplete works that Public Works is doing, the cleaning or the trenches and the streetlights,” the President announced, after listening to the residents’ concerns.
Similar, interventions, he explained, will be made within villages along the Demerara River.
“[Today], the Ministry of Agriculture will launch a programme throughout the Demerara River, they will visit every community, they will highlight the priority for every community and within two weeks, we will work on implementing actions to resolve the problems within the Demerara River, including drainage and irrigation…”
“We’ll work on helping every farmer, initially, to get five acres of land ready for farming. We’re also going to work to give the Demerara Rive a tractor and plough to help with the preparation of lands there, all of this has to be done within next week, including the tools, seedlings and planting materials…and I’m gonna come to the Demerara River sometime in March to see you actually planting and see the work that is being done.”
President Ali also addressed the issue of squatting and regularising communities.
“Lands and Survey and Housing will work together to come up with a list of every single lot that would be regularised, we’ll also give a list of all that cannot be regularised. We’re gonna work in the next six months to ensure that all that can be regularised, the application process is completed and you will get your leases for those that will be regularised. For those that cannot be regularised, the Ministry of Housing will take your information and you will be part of the development that we’re going to do to ensure that you live in good conditions…”
Meanwhile, President Ali committed to returning in two weeks to hand out titles to some persons within the squatter settlement that is being regularised at Timehri. This squatter settlement has about 400 households. The Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission (GLSC) has advanced the process of regularising the area. President Ali, however, highlighted that out of the 400 households in the area only 43 have process their application for regularisation.
Moreover, he noted the ongoing efforts to regularise Timehri North and plans to completing that process before the end of the year. At Hauraruni, Soesdyke, about 800 lots are being legalised.
Meanwhile, the Head of State also instructed that an assessment be conducted on schools within the district and that identified problems be resolved.
He also committed to having the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport visit the communities to look into the possibility of developing proper recreational facilities.
Over at Friendship, EBD, a similar activity was held whereby residents ventilated the issues affecting them, the majority of which had to do with land and water challenges.
In one case, there was a problem with overlapping titles for which President Ali acknowledged is a private matter but nevertheless committed to having the Attorney General Chambers appoint a mediator to try and have it resolved among the parties.
The Lands and Survey Commission was also instructed to visit the community to have other land-related issues addressed.
On the water challenges affecting the community, Shaik Baksh – Chief Executive Officer of the Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI) – recognised the lack of water access to some residents and asked for their patience.
Meanwhile, at his last stop at Grove, EBD, residents – mostly of the Kaneville community – sought the President’s intervention for infrastructural works and in getting jobs for youths.
President Ali committed that, “a team will come back within a week, all the roads and bridges will be done.”
“…within the next two weeks, you will see action,” he assured.
Also at Grove, a number of agency heads had the opportunity to address residents on developments ongoing in their sector and how such programmes will benefit them.
The GWI boss acknowledged the water woes affecting that area and committed that by July, the level of service to the residences will be improved, since a new well will be constructed.
Meanwhile, CEO of the Guyana Power and Light Inc. (GPL) Kesh Nandlall also addressed the residents on plans to reduce blackouts and improve the utility company’s reliability, with President Ali reminding that when the current administration took office in August 2020, “the entire transmission system was in a mess”.