GUYANA POLICE FORCE NEEDS TO STEP UP ITS EFFORTS TO FIGHT THE SCOURGE OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE--PRESS STATEMENT Friday 1 October 2010




SUMMARY:
• The PNCR takes this opportunity to wish every senior citizen, within the 183,000 square miles of our beloved country, Good health, and God’s blessings;
• The PNCR wishes to acknowledge and to thank the Government, through the Ministry of Agriculture, for the emergency flood relief response to the residents of the Lower Pomeroon Communities, which were ravaged by the recent excessively high tides;
• The PNCR believes that there should be a special unit in the Guyana Police Force to deal with domestic violence as well as special procedures to take such reports. The Party is adamant that such reports should not only be taken, but acted upon;
• It can only be the result of the arrogance of incumbency that is causing the Minister of Agriculture to be insisting on the building of the Hope/Doch Four Canal, rather than undertaking the urgently needed dredging works indicated above, as well as to construct the Relief Canal at Flagstaff as recommended.

PNCR MESSAGE FOR SENIOR CITIZENS’ MONTH: OCTOBER 2010

The People’s National Congress Reform extends our gratitude to all of our senior citizens for their sterling contributions and commitment to nation building. It is their efforts and contributions that have made it possible for succeeding generations of Guyanese, including their own children, relatives and friends, to have hope for a less turbulent future for all Guyanese.

The nation should be celebrating Senior Citizens’ Month, 1-31 October 2010. The PNCR recognizes that, as a consequence of the changes in the age structure of the population in most countries around the world, including Guyana and our sister Caribbean countries, senior citizens represent a significant segment of the population. Accordingly, there is the need for Governments to make the necessary budgetary provisions and put in place programmes which place greater emphasis on enhancing the quality of life and provide the much needed health and other support care for senior citizens

The PNCR notes that, over the last five years, under Minister Priya Manickchand, the National Commission on the Elderly, a statutory body which has the responsibility to discuss, investigate and formulate plans and policies for the elderly, has not held a meeting. While the Minister announces that there is a Commission, she has failed to have the Commission meet and deliberate on the many important issues that affect our senior citizens. Instead, what we have at the Ministry of Human Services are the usual hastily drawn-up programs, supported by photo opportunities with senior citizens, whenever Senior Citizens Month comes around.

The PNCR, through its Shadow Minister with responsibility for Human Services and Social Security, has, over the last five years, made several recommendations to Minister Priya Manickchand for the improvement and well being of our senior citizens. Among those were calls to:

 Review those laws and regulations governing the pensions;
 Enhance the capability, viability and integrity of the National Commission for the Elderly;
 Develop a National Policy for the elderly;
 Issue pension books during the month of December;
 Implement the recommendations outlined in the Citizens Policy Development Committee Report submitted since 1998;
 Implement provisions for housing support, as well as the subsidizing of utility and medical bills;
 Undertake the regular monitoring and evaluation of the management of the homes for the elderly, in order to ensure that appropriate standards are maintained, including adequate and appropriate care for the residents; and
 Introduce a Senior-Adolescent Partnership Program to equip young persons with skills and disciplines for the care for the elderly.

The Party believes that any caring Government will take steps to meet the challenges of a growing, healthier, and more active senior citizen population, through such programs as a Feeding Program, Senior Day activity centres, in each of the ten administrative regions. A service, such as the provision of visiting health aides, can be provided with the assistance of NGOs and other bodies.

It is time that we seek to have Seniors Health programs presented on our television/radio stations and in the newspapers, to help to educate and support those persons who have seniors at home and other caregivers in various institutions.

The PNCR is conscious that low wages and salaries, undermined by the rate of inflation and the crippling 16% VAT, have significantly eroded real disposable incomes in recent years. Consequently, Retired Public Servants are increasingly being drafted into the swelling ranks of persons who are unable to afford, from their meagre pensions, the basic necessities for daily living.

Of course, there is no guarantee that the Minister of Human Services or the Government will take on board any of the suggestions made to enhance the lives of our Senior Citizens. However, the PNCR can and will continue to strive to ensure that representation is made, at all levels, on behalf of our senior citizens.

The PNCR, therefore, calls on the Government to honour their obligations, particularly to our indigent and suffering senior citizens.

Our Party takes this opportunity to wish every senior citizen, within the 183,000 square miles of our beloved country, Good health, and God’s blessings.

LOWER POMEROON FARMERS AWAIT PROMISES OF LONGER TERM SOLUTIONS TO THEIR REGULAR FLOODING WOES

The PNCR wishes to acknowledge and to thank the Government, through the Ministry of Agriculture, for the emergency flood relief response to the residents of the Lower Pomeroon Communities, which were ravaged by the recent excessively high tides.

While the residents are extremely grateful for the help provided, they remain apprehensive over the continuing threats posed by the fifteen odd breaches to the river defence dam and are calling on the authorities to take expeditious action to have these breaches sealed.

The Regional Administration of Region # 2, Pomeroon/ Supenaam is well aware of the continuing problems faced by the farmers of this area, as a direct result of flooding due to overtopping of the river defence, even without the present breaches in the river defence dam.

The PNCR, therefore, calls on the authorities to treat the sealing of these breaches with the urgency it deserves, so as to ease the fears of the residents and allow them to get back to their farms and other means of livelihood.

GUYANA POLICE FORCE NEEDS TO STEP UP ITS EFFORTS TO FIGHT THE SCOURGE OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

The People’s National Congress Reform joins with concerned citizens to express our condolences to the parents, relatives and friends of Deon Stephens, Letuica Rodriquez and Rhondina Adams. Stephens and Rodriquez were brutally murdered by persons they were familiar with, while Adams, over the past weekend, turned herself into a “Human Torch” , after disputes with her husband.

The Party is both saddened and distressed over these incidents and trusts that the relatives and friends of the deceased will find peace and closure in time to come.

We, of the PNCR, have over the years been constant and consistent in our appeals to deal with this serious situation in our country. There has been legislation on it, there are some NGO’s committed to help, but despite their best efforts the violence continues almost unabated, in fact it seems to be getting worse.

In all the cases cited there were reports that if the Police had acted swiftly to carry out their mandates, such tragedies may have been avoided. In the case of thirty one year old Letuica Rodriquez, it is reported that the woman made a report to the Brickdam Police Station about the murder threat made to her, but was told by officers at the Brickdam Police Station that she was “coming too steady”, the officers allegedly refused to take the report. Such a situation leaves the public to wonder whether the Guyana Police Force understands their mandate and, if so, how seriously they have taken it. How secure are our citizens?

In the matter of thirty one year old Deon Stephens, her relatives believe that, if appropriate action had been taken, she would have still been alive. In a Kaieteur News article titled “Relatives accuse police of ignoring death threats” and, dated Wednesday 15th September 2010, relatives of the dead woman revealed that her reputed husband had threatened to kill her in the presence of ranks at the Vigilance Police Station, where she had previously reported an incident of domestic abuse. It was further reported, in the same article, that police ranks accompanied the woman to the home she shared with her reputed husband and watched as she packed her belongings, but seemingly ignored the reported threats, resulting in her brutal death.

In the tragic ending of twenty nine year old Rhondina Adams, the victim’s husband expressed frustration at the alleged refusal of assistance from the police. The man filed a report about his wife’s erratic behaviour just about twenty four hours before she took her own life in that particularly horrific manner; he said that if the police ranks had visited his home, his wife might still be alive. Other relatives of the dead woman have also expressed sentiments that it is time for officers to stop ignoring men and women who report domestic violence. It seems very clear that many of our police ranks do not share the sense of outrage that should accompany those reports of violence and abuse.

On Sunday 19 September 2010, on HBTV-Channel Nine, during the live panel discussion, on the PNCR’s “Nation Watch” programme, Ms. Deborah Backer, MP and Shadow Minister of Home Affairs, addressed the issue of domestic violence. She reiterated the PNCR’s position that there seems to be a lack of purpose within the operations of the Guyana Police Force. Ms. Backer also stressed that domestic violence has become an epidemic in Guyana. Much more sensitivity training seems to be required. The PNCR believes that there should be a special unit in the Guyana Police Force to deal with domestic violence, as well as special procedures to take such reports. The Party is adamant that such reports should not only be taken, but acted upon.

The PNCR has always been committed to advocating the rights and protection of all citizens, whether males or females, as it continues to monitor the performance of the current regime in fighting and curbing the scourge of domestic violence in Guyana.

EXECUTIVE ARROGANCE COMIT G$4Bn OF SCARCE TAXPAYER FUNDS FOR DUBIOUS HOPE/ DOCH FOUR CANAL PROJECT

The stated objective, for the Hope/Doch Four Northern Relief Canal project, by the Minister of Agriculture for the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA), is an engineering solution for the relief of the East Demerara Water Conservancy (EDWC) from the dangers of overtopping during periods of excessive rainfall when there is a high accumulation of water therein.

The publicly expressed views of experienced and knowledgeable engineers have indicated that it would be cheaper and safer to construct the Northern Relief Canal at Flagstaff to the Mahaica River.

In fact, the Consultants, appointed by the Government, stated, in their Report, that “the client instructed the Consultant to continue the design of the Relief Channel based upon the deep foreshore option and maintaining the width of the way-leave. Concerns were however expressed on excavating an outfall channel 2.5 km in length and maintaining it at an invert if 14.00m GD”. They further stated that “A much shorter relief channel route is possible between Flagstaff and the Mahaica River” and “It is possible that drainage in the Mahaica could be improved in the lower return period events. The Mahaica option would also need maintenance, but that requirement may not be any greater than the maintenance required for the Hope/Doch Four options. The capital cost of the Flagstaff – Mahaica relief route would be significantly lower than that of the Hope/Doch Four relief.”

In his letter to the Editor of the Kaieteur News, dated 1 February 2010, Mr Charles Sohan, a very experienced and knowledgeable Guyanese Engineer, pointed out that, “It was evident from the Consultants report the proposed Canal at Hope/Dochfour will not alleviate flood risks per se from the EDWC but it could provide some measure of flood relief if it operated in conjunction with the Lama and Maduni Sluices discharging into the Mahaica River.”

Incredibly, it is reported in the Kaieteur News of 26 September 2010, that: “There was one option that laid out a 3.5 km canal from the conservancy to the Mahaica River but this was rejected after hydrological surveys were carried out on the river showing that not only does the river have an inverse gradient (silt build up along the center of the channel) but it also has silt build ups blocking the mouth of the channel and which prevent adequate drainage of the channel during the low tides.”

What are the functions and responsibilities of the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA)?

The reality is that, the heavy siltation in the East Demerara Water Conservancy is progressively limiting its storage capacity. Therefore, the height of the water in the Conservancy is not truly indicative of excess inundation but of the urgent need to dredge the Conservancy.

From all the available hydrological survey information and analyses, it is clear that flood relief would only be effective, with or without the Hope/Doch Four canal, through the dredging of the Mahaica River as far upstream as beyond Belmonte, along with the removal of the sand bar from its mouth. In addition, there is the urgent need to dredge the approaches and rehabilitate the Lama, Maduni, Cunha and Kofi sluices, along with the canal leading to the Land of Canaan Spill Weir to restore the entire system to the original design capacity.

It can only be the result of the arrogance of incumbency that is causing the Minister of Agriculture to be insisting on the building of the Hope/ Doch Four Canal, rather than undertaking the urgently needed dredging works indicated above, as well as to construct the Relief Canal at Flagstaff as recommended.

The Minister of Agriculture is claiming that the construction cost, for the Hope/Doch Four relief canal, would be G$3.6Bn. However, if account is taken of: the cofferdam required for the 8 door sluice; the sea defence protection concrete walls at least 100 ft. both sides downstream of the outlet sluice; the length of the drainage channel and embankment over 10kms long; the road diversion with a high level pre-stressed concrete bridge along the main roadway; the access road for construction; and the access bridges across the canal, the cost is likely to be in excess of G$4.0Bn of scarce Guyanese Taxpayer funds.

It is evident that the engineers are fascinated by the opportunity to apply new materials and technologies for the construction of the Hope/Doch Four canal. However, there is no doubt that, given the extent of scarce National taxpayer resources which the Government, through the Minister of Agriculture, is arrogantly insisting on committing, that it is technically feasible to build the Canal. But that is not the issue. The issue is whether this solution is necessary and desirable!

The major and most frightening environmental risk is the likely catastrophic consequence of a breach of the banks of this high-level canal, which, for 8 of its 12 miles, would be about 8-9 feet higher than the surrounding terrain. Such a breach, apart from the possibility of the loss of lives, could cause considerable loss or damage to existing housing and other built infrastructure, as well as disrupt the livelihoods and well-being of the inhabitants in the surrounding communities of Dock Four, Two Friends, Hope/Lowlands and Ann’s Grove.

Yet, despite this, the Government claims that there is no need for an Environmental Impact Assessment but, instead, an Environmental Management Plan. What are the Environmental Hazards which this EMP will manage?

According to the Kaieteur News report , of 26 September 2010, “To facilitate the works, the Ministry had imported at least ten excavators earlier this year and now has a fleet of earth moving equipment which will be deployed to dig the more than ten-kilometer long canal.

According to Persaud, the Ministry’s decision to handle this part of the project themselves was a cost cutting measure.

The excavators will not only save the Ministry from paying a separate contractor to do the digging but the equipment can be used by the NDIA indefinitely as they undertake their drainage and irrigation works around the country.”

Surely, this new excavator capacity can be better deployed to build the 3.5km canal from Flagstaff to the Mahaica River, apart from being used immediately to remedy the many urgent drainage problems confronting our farmers, in the Pomeroon and across the country, due to continuing threat of flooding.

People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia
Georgetown, Guyana
Friday 1 October 2010

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