Ru­ral Guyana reels un­der ne­glect

Weekend Mirror - - EDITORIAL -

Since tak­ing of­fice the APNU/AFC coali­tion has not ini­ti­ated any sig­nif­i­cant de­vel­op­men­tal project that would bring ben­e­fit/s to the peo­ple and coun­try. In fact, there is stag­na­tion tak­ing place ev­ery­where and there is a con­spic­u­ous stu­por en­gulf­ing the gov­ern­ment. The en­tire Cab­i­net seems in­ca­pable of de­vis­ing a strat­egy and a plan to put the coun­try on track.

Nowhere is this in­er­tia more ev­i­dent than in ru­ral Guyana. The gov­ern­ment’s reach is cir­cum­scribed by the perime­ters of Ge­orge­town where its big­gest un­der­tak­ing, the bil­lion dol­lar-plus Dur­ban Park, stands as a mon­u­ment to the coali­tion’s lim­i­ta­tions as far as the coun­try’s de­vel­op­ment is con­cerned.

The re­cent rains have ex­posed the dire plight of ru­ral and hin­ter­land folks and their vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties due to ne­glect of in­fra­struc­ture. Farm­ers have suf­fered im­mense losses. Those in­volved in the min­ing and for­est in­dus­tries have com­plained of the poor state of roads.

Re­pairs to farm-to-mar­ket roads are in a state of dis­re­pair. Drainage and ir­ri­ga­tion canals in agri­cul­tural ar­eas are be­com­ing weed in­fested. Even com­mu­nity drainage is suf­fer­ing from gross ne­glect.

Most peo­ple go about their busi­ness as if there is no gov­ern­ment. They al­ready know that it is a waste of time to ap­peal to of­fi­cials so they don’t. Sev­eral calls for com­pen­sa­tion by var­i­ous com­mu­ni­ties have gone un­heeded.

In many places where there was a level of so­cial ser­vices, these are be­com­ing non-ex­is­tent. The sup­ply of drugs to ru­ral and hin­ter­land in­sti­tu­tions is be­ing bun­gled by the author­i­ties.

The Re­gional gov­ern­ments are suf­fer­ing from the same malaise. The hand-picked po­lit­i­cal op­er­a­tives in the sys­tem are ex­hibit­ing the same au­thor­i­tar­ian be­hav­ior seen at the level of the cen­tral gov­ern­ment. Elected of­fi­cials at the re­gional level, es­pe­cially where the PPP/C is in the ma­jor­ity, are be­ing by­passed and not con­sulted. The po­lit­i­cal REOs are be­com­ing like lit­tle Cae­sars.

It is the same sit­u­a­tion where the Neigh­bour­hood Coun­cils are con­cerned. The gov­ern­ment is sti­fling them, es­pe­cially since most of them are con­trolled by the PPP/C. There is hardly any ac­tiv­ity go­ing on in most of these NDCs and even when some­thing is done, the elected bod­ies are by­passed by the ‘Cae­sars’ in the RDCs.

The ini­tial cam­paign to clean var­i­ous com­mu­ni­ties has fiz­zled out. Even in the cap­i­tal city, where ma­jor clean-up ac­tiv­i­ties took place, the steam is run­ning out. The City Coun­cil has run out of cash as was seen in the re­cent strike by waste dis­posal firms which were not paid for months.

It this sit­u­a­tion is al­lowed to con­tinue it will have dev­as­tat­ing ef­fects on com­mu­ni­ties out­side of the cap­i­tal city. The de­te­ri­o­ra­tion of vi­tal in­fra­struc­ture will neg­a­tively im­pact on eco­nomic ac­tiv­i­ties and con­se­quently, the stan­dard of liv­ing. When this is added to the bur­dens of tax­a­tion, higher prices, etc, it means that ru­ral Guyana is head­ing for a se­vere cri­sis.

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