The Government is actively weighing options to either upgrade or construct a world-class medical facility in East Berbice Corentyne (Region 6), as part of its long-term plans to bring major development to the ancient county. Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh said the strategic upgrades will maximise the quality of health care services.
The minister held separate engagements with members of the Upper Corentyne and Central Corentyne Chambers of Commerce and the Berbice Chamber of Commerce and Development Association on Sunday.
“We are well aware of the shortcomings of the hospitals. I know you have had some challenges with the public health care facilities in the region. The region has also been in the news, not in a positive light regarding some incidents recently at the New Amsterdam hospital which are absolutely tragic.”
The minister’s consultations with the private sector groups allowed them to raise concerns and collectively find workable solutions to advance the economy. President of the Upper Corentyne Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Krishnand Jaichand complimented Dr. Singh for fulfilling the government’s promise to partner with the private sector to move the economy forward.
He highlighted, among other things, the need to repair the main thoroughfare along the Corentyne Coast and the need for fire hydrants. To ease the inconvenience faced by commuters, Dr. Singh said he had already instructed his staff to engage the public works ministry to rectify the patches on parts of the road.
“In fact, even this morning I was coming in the car along with my team we took notes of a couple of additional spots, which I think initially they did not have on the list. There are some instances where you would have to divert to the edge of the road to avert some of the potholes and the disintegrated road riding surface. So, that I can tell you definitively, we have taken note and we will be taking action to fix those pieces that are bad,” Minister Singh said.
He added, “The issue of fire hydrants is not a problem that is unique to Berbice……we are having a conversation about what we can do to make sure that we have functioning fire hydrants. This is a conversation that we had between the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Housing and Water, because of the intersection of responsibility. I will certainly escalate this discussion. I think this is something that does require national attention.”
In the long-term, the government is also considering options to widen the Corentyne highway where necessary, explaining that some parts of the thoroughfare where markets and businesses are close to the road shoulder, may not be able to expand. Dr. Singh explained that these are key initiatives to be undertaken, as the government seeks to advance works at the Moleson Creek to the El Dorado Road, and subsequently, the envisioned Corentyne to Suriname river bridge.
“I will say to you that upgrading the entire Corentyne highway is in fact something that is under active consideration right now as part of the whole stretch of infrastructure that will lead all the way over the river. This is not something that will happen tomorrow.” the minister reiterated.
For the Central Corentyne Chamber of Commerce, President Mohammed Rafeek highlighted that there is a shortage of skilled labourers and operators to work in the rice industry, and asked for the government to consider comfortable packages for professionals to encourage them to stay in Guyana after graduating.
Among other developments for the district, Dr. Singh pointed out the ongoing construction of the historical deep-water port in the Berbice River, which is expected to create about 1,000 jobs and tremendous economic activities for the business community.
The government also wants to expand the technical and vocational training capabilities in Region Six.
Meanwhile, Minister Singh said government places the highest level of importance to engage stakeholders, importantly the private sector, given the major role it plays in enhancing the economy.
Further, he pointed out the heavy investment in infrastructure to open up new lands for agriculture. Going forward, he said agriculture will play an integral part in the government’s economic strategy.