─ residents benefit from access to clean, potable waterThe eight artesian wells drilled by the Government of Brazil through the Sixth Battalion Engineering Corps (BET) of the Brazilian Army and the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) were on Wednesday formally handed over to the Government of Guyana and the eight villages in which they were drilled.Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge said the project came at a time when the two countries were celebrating 50 years of diplomatic ties. He noted that Guyana was susceptible to droughts and floods and the Rupununi was no exception.These floods and droughts have impacts on the lives of residents of these communities and this project has, therefore, been completed and recognised as a significant achievement, the Minister stated.Minister of State, Joseph Harmon related that although challenges were experienced from the commencement of the project, they were overcome throughMinister of State, Joseph Harmon and Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson along with residents look on as Aishalton Toshao Michael Thomas tests the water at the newly-commissioned wellcareful planning and multi and inter-agency collaboration and cooperation.Moreover, Harmon said every stakeholder must be proud of the achievement, noting that “the world can see how as neighbours we can collaborate to provide a better life for our citizens. There were soldiers in this project, but they weren’t fighting, they were collaborating to provide potable water to our citizens and it goes to show that there are other functions of the Army.”Also speaking at the ceremony, Brazilian Ambassador to Guyana, Lineu Pupo de Paula, who was visibly emotional, said he was pleased to see such an important project completed while noting the benefits to be accrued by residents of the nine communities.“I think this is the most important celebration of the 50th anniversary of our bilateral ties. I congratulate the officers and soldiers. We are friends, we are brothers and we are neighbours,” he said.Civil Defence Commission (CDC) Director General, Lieutenant Colonel Kester Craig said Guyana has embraced the concept of comprehensive disaster risk management while pointing to climate change and the effects thereof.However, Regional Chairman Brian Allicock thanked the Governments of Guyana and Brazil for the work done on the wells, noting that the nine wells would provide significant relief to the residents of the South Rupununi.The well in Aishalton is 80 metres deep with a flow rate of 5000 litres per hour; Karaudarnau’s is 80 metres deep with a flow rate of 4500 litres per hour, Awarewaunau’s has been drilled to 100 metres with a flow rate of 4000 litres per hour and Chukrikednau’s was drilled to 80 metres deep and boasts of a flow rate of 6000 litres per hour.The Maruranau well was also drilled to a depth of 80 metres and has a flow rate of 3500 litres per hour, Shea’s was drilled to a depth of 100 metres and has a 4000 litres per hour flow rate while Achiwuib’s is 60 metres deep with a flow rate of 6000 litres per hour and Bashaidrun’s was drilled to 80 metres deep with a flow rate of 6000 litres per hour.Aside from the drilling and setting up of the wells, the road network in the South Rupununi as well as capacity building of members of the GDF, Guyana Water Inc, Hydrometereological Office and officials from the communities were also improved through the project.The project followed President David Granger’s State visit to Brazil in December 2017, where the Complementary Agreement to the Basic Agreement on Technical Cooperation between the Governments of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana and the Federative Republic of Brazil for the Implementation of the Project Technologies to Reduce the Effects of the Drought in Region Nine was inked.
Rose Hall Estate closureWorkers attached to the Rose Hall Sugar Estate in East Berbice have, in a bid to save their livelihoods, said it is not too late for Government to reconsider closing the estate at the end of the crop.The workers addressed the media on Wednesday at a press conference organized by the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) at the union’s New Amsterdam office.Reading a prepared speech, Glen McCloud, one of the workers’ representatives, declared the workers were hopeful that there would have been a relook at the intention, recognizing the obvious hardship that would result from the estate’s closure.Some Rose Hall Estate workersEver since announcement of the estate’s imminent closure, the workers, backed by the unions GAWU and NAACIE, have taken to the streets in several protest demonstrations to signal to Government the negative impact that closure would have on workers and the economy as a whole.However Government, three weeks ago, said it was a done deal, and that it would proceed with the closure.“For us of Rose Hall, closure can be seen as a death knell for so many hardworking people and their families. For us of Rose Hall, closure means that our plans for life, our dreams for a better tomorrow, and our aspirations for our children and grandchildren have all but been dashed. For us of Rose Hall, closure will bring about uncertain times and many difficult, misery-filled days ahead. For us of Rose Hall, closure can be seen as a death knell for so many hardworking people and their families.”Another worker pointed out that for families of Rose Hall, the closure means that their life plans, dreams for a better tomorrow, and aspirations for their children and grandchildren have all but been dashed.“For us of Rose Hall, closure will bring about uncertain times and many difficult, misery-filled days ahead.“For us of Rose Hall, closure brings about real questions, like where would our next meal come from? How would our children and grandchildren go to school? And how would we earn and meet our obligations?“For us of Rose Hall, closure means difficult choices have to be made. Would we eat, or would we pay the electricity bills? Would we send the children to school, or would we buy clothes? Would we starve, or do we have to do something not necessarily right to put food on the table.”According to the workers, they were hoping that decision-makers, recognising the difficulties which now face the people of Wales, would have harboured second thoughts.“Rose Hall’s closure brings about real questions, like where would our next meal come from? How would (our) children and grandchildren go to school? And how would (we) earn in order to meet the obligations, which include electricity and water bills?” the worker said.Meanwhile, three weeks ago, GuySuCo announced plans to retrench 2,500 workers by the end of this year.GAWU said the downsizing and subsequent closure of sugar estates would lead to the loss of more than 15,000 jobs and the potential threat of poverty for between 50,000 and 100,000 people.Responding to reporters, McCloud said the Government has made no provision for the workers who will be sent home.He said there is nothing that they can believe, since they have been told several different stories of plans for displaced estate workers, including that they will be absorbed in the NDIA drainage crew.Inderjeet Bhopaud, another workers’ representative, told reporters that in East Canje, the economy has almost come to a standstill, even though everyone is still on the job and receiving their wages.The workers are calling on the Government to put in place competent persons to manage its resources, claiming that the sugar company is currently headed by persons who have a vendetta against sugar workers, who were instrumental in those persons’ dismissal before they were rehired under the current administration. (Andrew Carmichael)