Press Release PNCR Leader visits Potaro/Siparuni in Region #8 People’s National Congress Reform Congress Place, Sophia Georgetown, Guyana April 14, 2005

A high level PNCR team led by Party Leader, Robert H O Corbin MP visited various communities in Region #8 over the weekend, April 1 – 3, 2005. Accompanying him were Ms. Amna Ally MP, Director of Party Organisation, Dr. George Norton MP, Director of Hinterland Affairs, Ms. Melanie Cornette, National Secretary of the GYSM, Ms. Rajcoomarie Bancroft, Regional MP, Region #8 and Regional Chairman of Region #8, Mr. Senor Bell.

Among the communities visited were the mining community of Mahdia and the Amerindian communities of Princeville, Campbelltown, Micobie and Tumatumari. These visits were part of the continuing outreach programme of the PNCR and Opposition Leader to discuss problems affecting residents and the appropriate solution so that adequate steps could be taken to have them remedied. Among the problems outlined by residents in these communities were:

• The shortage and absence of teachers in schools
• Inadequate health care
• The deplorable state of their roads
• Absence of portable water systems
• Poor communications
• The failure of the government to settle Amerindian land issues.
• Indiscriminate mining as well as unavailability of land to small miners to carry out their mining operations.

In discussion with residents of Princeville on Friday April 1, 2005, the residents lamented the fact that their multi-grade school had only two teachers, one of whom is attending the Cyril Potter College of Education on a full time basis, thus effectively leaving one to teach more than 40 students in different grades. The residents also lamented over the fact that, despite the presence of a community health worker, it was necessary for malaria patients to travel some 7 miles on foot to Mahdia for the drugs necessary to treat their condition.

The deplorable state of the road to Mahdia also prevented vehicles other than high base, 4 wheel drive trucks access to the area, a facility which none of the residents possessed.

At a community meeting held later that day in Mahdia residents also complained about the job opportunities for the young people and facilities for further education, thus leaving idle youths to the vagaries and temptation of a mining environment. Of major concern in the Mahdia area, however, was the absence of opportunities for small miners to carry out their mining operations. Several angry small miners conveyed to the Opposition Leader their views that the Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) was orchestrating a deliberate policy to harass small miners while large foreign companies were given preference. Their views were that, while foreign investors should be welcome, a special allocation of lands should be made to enable small miners with limited resources to conduct their mining operations.

Deplorable Water Supply
The residents of Mahdia complained about the deplorable state of the portable water system that was unable to satisfy their requirements despite millions of dollars of already spent it.

Residents later took the Leader of the Opposition to a well for which it was alleged cost $17 million to drill and from which only laterite coloured water in limited quantities was obtained periodically. At the same time, they were able to point to a similar well drilled by small Brazilian outfit for a private business which only cost the proprietor $1.5 million compared with $17 million which the government spent. They urged the Opposition Leader to make representation so that the water supply project, which is more than one year behind schedule, could be urgently completed.

Land Titles
At Campbelltown, the Amerindian community was greatly concerned about their land titles, so too were the residents of Amerindian community of Micobie in the Potaro River. Both communities explained that, contrary to reports in the state media, neither village was consulted by the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs on the proposed new Amerindian Act.

On Saturday April 2, the PNCR delegation travelled several miles on the road to Salbora to hold discussions with small miners in their mining camps. The team was able to experience at first hand the hardship which these miners faced, including having to travel on the deplorable road.

At El Paso and Tumatumari, residents were concerned about the absence of communication, albeit promises were made by government officials several months ago to have a telecommunication set for the community.

The deplorable state of the access road to Tumatumari posed greater hardship especially in cases where there are emergencies because the medex visits the community only on a monthly basis, the consequence is that residents have to travel for hours to Mahdia to receive medical attention.

The Leader of the PNCR, Mr. Corbin undertook to make representation to the relevant authorities on the numerous complaints with the aim of bringing relief to these communities.

The visit concluded with a well-attended public meeting in the Mahdia township that was addressed by Dr George Norton MP and Mr. Corbin.

People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia
Georgetown, Guyana
April 14, 2005