Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance, Gail Teixeira, MP, on Tuesday, engaged stakeholders of Bartica, Region Seven, on various issues affecting residents there.
Among those who participated in the event were Toshaos and other village leaders, business persons, and representatives from religious organisations, along with minibus, taxi, and speed boat unions.
During her interaction, Minister Teixeira said that the government is committed to the development of Region Seven and to providing equal opportunities for people in every sector.
In the area of education, four new schools are currently under construction in Waramadong, Dagg Point, Kurutuku, and St Martain’s to ensure better delivery of education to students in those areas.
Minister Teixeira said Region Seven has a history of persons not moving on to secondary and tertiary institutions after completing their primary education. This is worrying, she said, since Guyana is developing rapidly and there will be the need for locally skilled persons.
To this end, the government will be constructing and expanding more secondary institutions. Already, for this year, she said the awarding of scholarships to the University of Guyana has moved from two to nine in Region Seven. And over 200 persons from that region have also enrolled in the Guyana Online Academy of Learning (GOAL) scholarship programme.
“We need to, as a developing country within five to ten years, produce a number of skilled people to be able to manage the new industries that are emerging… and so, we are looking to have more persons getting those scholarships to study both locally and overseas,” the minister said.
In terms of security within the region, Minister Teixeira said the government will be establishing regional support teams which will comprise ranks of the Guyana Police Force (GPF), the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), the Customs Anti Narcotic Unit (CANU), and representatives of organisations, Amerindian Village Councils and civil society, to deal with transnational crime and to ensure a more equipped and professional security force.
The Bartica District Hospital will also be modernised to provide quality health to the residents of the region, while the government will expand its housing programmes in Bartica.
The minister also updated stakeholders on some of the national issues that will benefit the people of the region, including the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) 2030 launched by President, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali.
She reminded that Guyana is unique in that, despite mining and forestry, the country is able to record .06 percent deforestation. This is accredited to its people, the Amerindians in particular, who have been the custodians of the environment for thousands of years.
However, the new oil and gas industry poses a number of challenges but has enormous opportunities, and so, the focus will be on how to regulate the industry, while protecting the environment and benefitting from it.
The tourism industry is also expanding with a number of international hotels expressing interest in Guyana. Guyana and Barbados will be collaborating to provide the necessary training to prepare Guyanese for the industry.
Meanwhile, participants were given the opportunity to raise issues and concerns, the most common being drainage and irrigation, roads, lands, tourism, waste disposal security, and labour.
Molly Thomas, Vice Chairperson of Dagg Point Village raised the issue of deplorable roads and the need for more consultations on projects being executed in the village. She is also seeking the government’s intervention in their land dispute.
Minister Teixeira said there needs to be a multi-agency approach to deal with the land issue in Dagg Point. On the issue of the road, Regional Executive Officer (REO), Kerwin Ward said the road will be included in the 2022 budget as a priority project.
The drainage and irrigation matter is engaging the region and the Ministry of Public Infrastructure.
The meeting formed part of the PPP/C Government’s policy of engaging citizens at the community level, to identify and track the needs and expectations of the people, as well as seek recommendations on issues affecting them.