After more than three weeks without potable water in several villages on the West Coast of Demerara (WCD), residents have confirmed that the issue has been resolved.Guyana Times was informed that water supply resumed as per normal and the scheduled timings were extended, for additional hours. Many persons were elated at this outcome, since they were now accessing clean water to perform household chores and for drinking purposes.“After it was published in Guyana Times, we got back the water now and it is normal in the community. The pressure is okay and the timing for the water, they fixed that. Instead of having the water cutting off for a certain period, the water is continuous. We’re getting it all the time,” a resident said over the weekend.It was reported last month that several villages on the WCD were deprived of potable water and villagers were sourcing water from trenches. Some days, a few households were fortunate to have access to very low-pressure water.“Late in the night then, you might be lucky to get it very slow and maybe early in the morning like 03:30h, but it just dripping so that can’t really do anything,” an affected person had complained.One of the Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) representatives told this publication last week that hundreds of persons from her district were affected by the unreliable water supply from the utility company, Guyana Water Inc (GWI). Although they have been without potable water in the past, this has been the longest period of poor water supply.‘‘The entire village was without water. The residents have to go by the trench to dip water to do their chores. They have a pump station in Vergenoegen and since we’ve been having this problem. We write GWI and they replied that they will fix the problem, but the problem is getting worse,” the Councillor said.“The water is not clear. It’s reddish, sometimes it’s muddy and sometimes you can’t use it, because it is causing itching on the children and the adults as well.”Meten-Meer-Zorg was also facing the same issue, but the water supply was restored about one week ago and has since been consistent.
– says it is analysing, taking losses seriouslyA Partnership for National Unity’s (APNU) performance at the recently held Local Government Elections (LGE), which saw them gain only 34 per cent of the vote, has served as a reality check for the Government.This assertion was made by Minister of State and Government’s designated spokesperson, Joseph Harmon, on Friday. Harmon acknowledged the importance of taking stock from and analysing whatever message the electorate sends at the polls.“As political parties, it’s very important that you look and analyse the results of the elections. I think it has been a reality check and therefore you have to pay attention to what the people are saying. It’s not like we haven’t been doing so, but sometimes you go out there and you talk to people and you miss some in the exchanges.Because LGE are so diversified you can actually speak to issues as they affect communities, as opposed to a General Elections where the numbers are general.According to Minister of State Joseph Harmon, LGE results were a reality checkSo you can now look to what the communities are saying and speak to that with the way your budget is structured and the way in which you do your outreaches to these communities. So we did look at these and we had a review and the review actually said to us a number of things.”Harmon referred to the elections as a ‘barometer’ by which they could gauge the mood of the populace. According to Harmon, Government has reviewed the elections and assimilated the results. Despite all this, however, Harmon does not feel that the election results are necessarily an indictment on the coalition Government.“In so far as it being a census on the coalition Government, I think that may not necessarily be an accurate statement. If you recognise the turn out, the turnout was low. And what you’re looking at were percentages of low turnout. But as I said, it has actually given us a guide about how to move forward.”At the 2018 LGE held earlier this month, the governing coalition parties, particularly the Alliance For Change (AFC) received heavy defeats at the hands of the People’s Progressive Party when the people were given their chance to have their say.Official results from the Guyana Elections Commission show that the People’s Progressive Party won 61 per cent of the vote (122,307). The A Partnership for National Unity trails behind with 34 per cent (68,060). The AFC, which had previously said it won 10 per cent, only netted four per cent of the votes (8719).Soon after the November 12, 2018 LGE, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo announced the filing of a no-confidence motion against the Government. He later described the defeats the coalition sustained as a no-confidence vote from the people themselves.Out of 572,531 people registered to vote, only 208,534 actually came out to exercise their franchise. This is a turnout of 36 per cent. When LGE were last held in 2016, the turnout was 47 per cent.
Police in E Division (Linden-Kwakwani) are investigating the shooting of 28-year-old Linden shop owner, Marvin Somersoll of Lot 67 Z Wismar Housing Scheme.Reports are Somersoll was shot at about 09:00h on Tuesday following an altercation over an incident that occurred on Mashramani Day.This publication was told that the suspect, also of Wismar Housing Scheme, and the victim’s 17-year-old brother had a misunderstanding on February 23, which led to the beating of the teen.Guyana Times understands that on Monday, the suspect went to the victim’s home asking him for his teen brother when an argument ensued between the two and the suspect subsequently went away. However, he returned on Tuesday while the victim was washing clothes in his yard.The suspect is alleged to have pulled out two guns, including a small handgun and shot the victim twice, once on both feet. The bullets are said to have hit just above the knee on his right foot and just above the ankle of his left.The suspect then made good his escape. The victim was rushed to the Linden Hospital Complex where his condition is listed as stable. Police are still hunting for the suspect.
The Public Health Ministry will be commencing its Lymphatic Filariasis Elimination Campaign early next week where the general population is urged to take their pills during the national distribution exercise.Spearheaded by the Mass Drug Administration (MDA), the programme will seek to target areas where the population is vulnerable to the disease. Guyanese will be given three tablets; Ivermectin, Diethylcarbamazine (DEC) and Albendazole. The combination of pills is referred to as the IDA and is proven to reduce the elimination time.Throughout the month of October, the pills will be provided in communities across the country. In the past two years, an estimated 80 per cent of persons in Regions Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara), Four (Demerara-Mahaica), Five (Mahaica-Berbice) and Ten (Upper Demerara-Berbice) were administered with DEC and Albendazole. This time around, Ivermectin will be introduced.Ivermectin is a medication used to treat many types of parasitic infestations. This includes head lice, scabies, and Lymphatic Filariasis. Research shows that it is better to take the drug on an empty stomach or one to two hours after a meal. Side effects of the drug include headache; dizziness; muscle pain; nausea; diarrhoea; swelling of hands, ankles or feet; swelling or tenderness of lymph nodes and/or itching.The number of tablets varies per age, and they are not to be given to pregnant women and children below the age of two years old. It is said that a person requires five annual doses of the pills before they become immune to the mosquito-borne disease.Last October, Public Health Minister Volda Lawrence had announced that over US$1 million was used for pills and sensitisation procedures for 2018. Lawrence reported that for the MDA programme, more locals were interested in taking the pills to prevent the dreaded disease from affecting their lymphatic glands and causing swelling.The Minister said although some were excited to take the pills, others were more concerned about the side effects. As a result, she noted that more information will be provided for locals on the side effects, which are mild, as well as the benefits of consuming the tablets.It was disclosed during the launch of the MDA programme that epidemiology coverage has improved from 45.7 per cent in 2015, to 54.42 per cent in 2016 as only two regions received the pills back in 2015, and the Government was able to extend the pill distribution to four in 2016.This was still, however, no major achievement for the country as the pass mark for coverage percentage was 65 per cent, according to the Pan American Health Organisation/World Health Organisation (PAHO/WHO). The country was finally able to achieve this last year, achieving 86 per cent epidemiology coverage.
…following diesel spill in Ikaazupu Wao creekThe South Rupununi District Council (SRDC) expressed its concerns over the recent spill of over 30 drums of diesel fuel into the Ikaazupu Wao creek in Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo). The spill has caused the Indigenous communities representative body to call on the Natural Resources Ministry to develop and implement the Headwaters Protection Plan as agreed upon.The topped truckThe now polluted Ikaazupu Wao creek falls within the titled lands of Aishalton village, South Rupununi. Last Wednesday, the SRDC reported that a truck owned by V Dalip Enterprise was transporting over 100 drums of fuel and as it was crossing the Ikaazupu Wao Bridge, it broke.The truck then toppled over and spilt approximately 30 drums of diesel into the creek.This creek flows into Tooto Wao, which in turn flows into Kwitaro River. The people, not only in Aishalton, but also in the villages of Awarewaunau, Maruranau and Shea depend upon this river’s ecosystem. The SRDC said this fuel spill and pollution of such critical waterways will harm the fish, wildlife, and livelihoods of the beneficiaries.“Our people fish and hunt in these rivers and creeks. This fuel spill provides just one example of the concerns raised last week at the just concluded National Toshaos Conference. Kid James, project coordinator for the SRDC, had expressed concerns about the damage that mining trucks and excavators have caused to transport infrastructure in the South Rupununi.“He recommended that the Government of Guyana review and improve its policies and laws on mining, including on the way mining concessions are issued and on the environmental, social, human rights, economic, and infrastructural impacts of mining. Importantly, the Government of Guyana must also improve the enforcement of laws and regulations,” the representative body said in a statement.The review and improvement of these laws, policies, and enforcement measures must be done in conjunction with Indigenous peoples, who are the ones most impacted by mining activities, James had recommended. James’ statements were echoed by representatives and Toshaos of other communities and regions in Guyana, and the final resolution of the NTC Conference reflected these concerns and included associated recommendations.“This latest environmental catastrophe only serves to reinforce the need for the effective development and implementation of the Headwaters Protection Plan already agreed upon between the Ministry of Natural Resources and the SRDC. The plan for the protection of the headwaters of the Kwitaro and Kuyuwini Rivers is currently under discussion between the Ministry and the SRDC and would ban mining in and near those rivers and aim to preserve the health of those waterways. We look forward to working with the Ministry to jointly develop and implement this important measure for the protection of our waterways, our environment, and our land, and we hope it will serve as a useful model for other communities in Guyana as they struggle with their own mining-related issues,” the statement noted.Mining has destroyed a number of waterways around the country and disrupted the eco-systems of those affected waterways.
In light of the numerous celebratory activities slated for this festive season, Acting Police Commissioner, Nigel Hoppie is urging members of the public, who are operating vehicles and will be imbibing, to get a designated driver.Acting Police Commissioner Nigel HoppieAt the Guyana Police Force (GPF) Annual Trainees’ Christmas Luncheon on Friday, he said that it is expected that many persons will participate in consuming alcoholic beverages at social events and activities that are being held to celebrate the Christmas season.However, he pointed out that too many fatal accidents have occurred for this year already, specifically in the month of November, and, therefore, drivers on the roadways must take more caution during the festive season.“In November, as you would have learnt in the media that we had 15 accidents which resulted in 21 deaths. Three of which were children and so as we go down for the remainder of the year we need to ensure that we be our brother’s keeper.”According to the Acting Police Commissioner, if all drivers exercise diligence while operating vehicles and practice upholding the road regulations and laws then the country’s roadways would not be claiming so many lives.“While we conduct our business, we conduct a certain amount of responsibility and in our use of the road especially as drivers, we need to be cognisant of the five Cs. These are care, courtesy, caution, common sense and consideration….and we will certainly make our roads a better place towards the end of the year.”Less than three weeks ago, Traffic Chief, Superintendent Linden Isles had acknowledged that in Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica) – the East Bank Demerara Sub-Division (Region Four (B)) – special systems have to be put in place since this is a section where most of the serious accidents have been recorded.“If you look at the statistics it would show that in 2018 we had 16 accidents with 24 deaths and in 2019 we had 17 accidents with 25 deaths. So special emphasis will be placed in that area. Also, we could look at Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) where we had 14 accidents with 14 deaths in 2018 and 15 accidents with 15 deaths in 2019.”However, the Traffic Chief noted that January 1 to November 10 of this year reveals that there has been a four per cent decrease in accidents and a six per cent decrease in deaths related to accidents comparative to the same period in 2018.Road carnageJust a few days ago, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo stated that the road carnage situation is not a political one in nature and recommended that all stakeholders should contribute towards finding a comprehensive solution.“There is carnage on our roads and we have to find a way of stopping it. We don’t have all the answers and I’m sure they don’t too,” he positioned.He also asserted that those culpable must take responsibility for their actions. Meanwhile, Jagdeo clarified that if any political party promises to lower these statistics, it is untrue since a collective approach is required.“It’s a combination of education, strong regulations, taking tough actions and people have to take responsibility too. People have to take personal responsibility for these issues because sometimes, you have one crazy person. Any [political] party that says to you that they can stop this will be lying to you,” he expressed.His comments come in light of President David Granger’s response to the increased carnage, outlining a three-point approach for road safety. Road users were urged to observe the Guyana Police Force’s code of behaviour.The caretaker President further pointed out that the “insane increase in road fatalities” was due to persons driving at excessive speeds, driving under the influence of alcohol, driving without due care and attention and driving on roads which are congested or unsafe for other road users, particularly pedestrians.
The coalition Government sought the passage of the Protected Disclosures Bill 2017 in the National Assembly on Thursday, but was confronted head on with its treatment of a whistleblower last year, who was transferred after revealing the alleged drug abuse of a coalition councillor.When granted the floor, Opposition Parliamentarian Harry Gill made specific references to the incident involving a Berbice nurse who had blown the whistle onSpeaker of the National Assembly, Dr Barton ScotlandCouncillor Carol Joseph. In the wake of her disclosure, the nurse reportedly was subsequently transferred.“This bill could have easily been named after a young APNU/AFC supporter whose whole family voted last elections for change,” Gill said. “This is a story of a whistleblower who was suspended, harassed, intimidated, victimized, and transferred against her will; and made to suffer intrigue against her in terms of life and professional career,” he said.“Her only crime was that she saw an injustice, the abuse of a dangerous drug by an addicted public official, and, out of concern and the public interest, thought she was doing the patriotic thing by reporting the abuse to the relevant authority,” Gill explained.He pointed out that this all falls under the definition of detrimental action, and is prohibited by the bill under clause 21. He acknowledged that while the Bill was notOpposition MP Harry Gilloperationalised as yet, this should not prevent the ministry from investigating the matter.But the parliamentarian noted that despite the matter having been continuously ventilated in the public domain and a probe of the doctors involved having been done by the Medical Council, the Public Health Ministry has failed to launch an official investigation into the issue.The parliamentary Opposition’s continued references to the incident, and reports that complaints were made to the Public Health Ministry but nothing was done, prompted the relevant Minister, Volda Lawrence, to interject under Standing Order 40. She denied knowledge of any reports reaching her.Lawrence demanded that Gill withdraw his reference to her failure to act on the allegations, a moved backed up by Speaker of the National Assembly. In spite of the Opposition side objecting to the request, Gill was forced to withdraw his statement.VictimisationSherlyn Marks, the nurse in question, was initially attached to a West Coast Berbice hospital. She was transferred with immediate effect during the last week in April last year after she had made complaints against former APNU/AFC Councillor Carol Joseph. She claimed that the former councillor had been going to the hospital for an excessive daily dose of the painkiller pethidine. The nurse has accused the regional administration of targeting her.Nurse Marks, who said she filed complaints twice last year, claimed she refused to administer the 100 ml dose to Joseph, who would turn up daily to receive it. She said she received a letter of transfer from the Regional Office after being scolded for going to the media with her complaints. Some two days later, Joseph reportedly resigned from her post and the party.Persons and organisations, including the Transparency Institute of Guyana Incorporated, have been critical of the incident and the potential repercussions for transparency and accountability. TIGI had referred to the case by noting that Marks was bludgeoned into oblivion; or worse, “for exposing the abuse of power.”TIGI had also noted that the failure to act by the administration in the region was amplified and encouraged by the absence of a functional Integrity Commission to which Marks could have complained.The first bit of retaliation was the transferring of Marks to another facility without her having requested it, the TIGI pointed out. It added that Marks’s move to address the matter publicly after two attempts to urge the responsible officers to act appears to have embarrassed people of power who had condoned Joseph’s actions.Calling the transfer a pathetic response, TIGI had noted that the transfer was done without consideration of any hardships or other changes in Marks’s circumstances. The group noted that the nurse was therefore treated like an expendable pawn for going public.TIGI had affirmed that it does not support breaking the law, but had added that when abuse of power is done with impunity while persons making disclosures are made to feel the consequence, it is mere lip service for those in authority to proclaim support for whistle-blowers.
Security sector reform…says way should be paved for more women to enter the GPFAcknowledging that progress in reforming the security sector has been slow, British High Commissioner Gregory Quinn believes improving infrastructure and conditions for Police ranks should be priority areas.Quinn made these remarks during a press conference at his Bel Air, Georgetown residence on Friday. While he pointed to ongoing Police station construction, the Diplomat acknowledged concerns about the slow implementation of reforms in the security sector.Another acknowledgement was that there are obvious areas which need more work, including training, improving Police conditions and recruiting more women. Quinn stated that while accomplishing this will cost money, there will be long-term benefits across the board for Guyana’s security sector.“I think we’re moving forward, maybe a bit slower than some people would want, but in a way that’s deliberate because we need to make sure that (things are) doneUK High Commissioner Gregory Quinnproperly. (We need) to ensure that Police ranks have got the proper terms and conditions and the barracks they live in are suitable, the training they get is appropriate, there is an appreciation for the need to bring more women into the Police and to improve the ability for women to come in.”Improvements for officersDelving into these issues, Quinn spoke on the issue of training. According to Quinn, it is a fundamental fact that the way ranks are trained determines the basis of their time in the Force. He noted that work remains to be done in this particular area… work which would have an obvious impact on ranks.“There’s also infrastructure. You’ve seen the IDB/CSSP building new Police stations. There a new one in New Amsterdam. There’s another one going up. I think there’s an understanding that the Police infrastructure is not always as good as it should be. And some of the barracks the ranks are living in are not as they should be. You have to treat the ranks and the officers properly. And I think that’s work which can be done very quickly and easily.”“It’s going to cost some money. But by doing that you will see improvements across the board… you’ll see better training, better living conditions, a happier and more effective Force. I accept that there hasn’t been a big bang of changes, but I think it’s a slow and deliberate process. But progress is being made and from what I’m being seen, benefits are coming through, though not as obvious as people would like,” the High Commissioner said.Back in January, British security expert, Colonel Russel Combe had handed over a number of recommendations for security reform. Receiving the report, which focuses on reforms within the Guyana Police Force, was President David Granger.There are also measures included to address issues plaguing the prisons and the fire services as well as the Guyana Defence Force’s Coast Guard. While this specific report has not been released to the public, another report emanating from the British-funded programme was released.According to the Citizen Security Strengthening Programme (CSSP) prison survey, completed and handed over a few months ago, prison was overwhelmingly perceived as an unsafe environment by inmates, who complained of being subjected to theft and violence behind prison walls.
A fire of unknown origin has completely gutted a two-storey wooden structure at Mon Repos, East Coast Demerara (ECD), on Sunday morning leaving one woman dead and several homeless.The charred remains of 57-year-old Yowani Sasenarine, who occupied the upper flat of the Lot 564 Block 8 Mon Repos, ECD home were removed after the fire was extinguished. The woman suffered from a stroke and was unable to run to safety.The top flat of the house was reportedly occupied by the now dead woman and one of her daughters, 25-year-old Caraline Sasenarine, while the bottom flat was occupied by another daughter, Karen Chung, and her husband, Joseph Pereira, along with their three children.At the scene, the woman’s son-in-law, Joseph Pereira, said he was awoken by the screams from the deceased at around 2:10h and upon checking, he saw the entire upper flat of the house engulfed in flames.He reportedly attempted to extinguish the fire and save the deceased but failed. He, nevertheless, managed to save his wife and three children who were in the lower flat. He was the last to see his mother-in-law since he made sure that she was in bed.The aftermath of the fireThe woman’s younger daughter, Caraline, told Guyana Times that she left her mother sitting in a chair watching television around 1:00h.She explained that she left home and went to a function at her brother’s residence in Better Hope, ECD, and on her way home in a taxi, she saw the flames and as she neared her street, realised it was her house.“I had my food and was waiting to come home and eat with my mother,” a tearful Caraline said, explaining that when she arrived, she noticed her sister, brother-in-law and nieces were outside, but not her mother.When she inquired, she was told by Pereira that he was not able to save her mother due to the intensity of the fire which had already spread to most parts of the top flat of the house.Caraline said she burst into tears and started screaming because she could not come to grips with the fact that her mother was burnt alive. “I don’t care about the house, but my mother was in there,” she cried.While neighbours recalled hearing the screams, most of them said by the time they ran outside, the fire had already swept through the entire house and there was no way it could have been saved.Nevertheless, they alerted the police and the fire service. However, they complained that the fire service responded too late and could not have done anything to save the house from burning.The police did state in its reports that two fire tenders were dispatched to the scene of the fire, one from the Campbellville and another from the Alberttown Fire Station.Upon their arrival, they managed to extinguish the fire but the entire structure was engulfed in flames. The charred body of Sasenarine was discovered on the southern side of the house in the living area. The fire officials have launched an investigation to determine the cause and origin of the fire.In the meantime, her daughters and other family members have found temporary homes. They were not able to salvage anything and remain without clothing and food. Anyone interested in making a donation to the family is asked to contact 234-1217.
House-to-house registration vacancy ads– ask Secretariat to withdraw ads and commence preparations for electionsThe People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Commissioners on the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) have noted with great concern several advertisements for vacancies at the Commission which appeared in the newspapers of Sunday, March 3, 2019.See full text of statement below:“We note, with great concern, several advertisements for vacancies at the Guyana Elections Commission, which appeared in the newspapers of Sunday, 3rd March, 2019.These vacancies relate to personnel required for the conduct of House to House Registration.The Commission has not taken a decision to commence House to House Registration and as a consequence, these advertisements are perplexing, at best.This comes in light of the impending need for the conduct of General and Regional Elections, mandated by the successful passage of a no confidence motion in the National Assembly on the 21st December, 2018.Despite our repeated requests, both within the Commission and publicly, for the Secretariat to commence preparations for the conduct of elections, no step has been taken in this regard. Instead, one excuse after the other has been proffered as for the delay on such commencement. The latest excuse of funding is, in our opinion, a contrived attempt to cause further delay.We maintain that House to House Registration is not necessary at this time. There are several legally prescribed processes for the revision of the electoral roll to enable the conduct of elections. These processes ought to be utilized in light of the constitutionally mandated timeline for the holding of the elections aforesaid.We view this action of the Secretariat as a flagrant disregard of its mandate enshrined in the Constitution.In light of the foregoing, we call on the Secretariat of the Guyana Elections Commission to immediately withdraw the advertisements and with similar immediacy, commence the preparation for the conduct of elections in the manner and time specified by law”.On December 21, 2018, Alliance For Change (AFC) Member of Parliament (MP) Charrandas Persaud voted in favour of the no-confidence motion against the Government, during the debate on this matter, held in the National Assembly. During the reading of the motion, the Speaker’s opinion was that the no’s have it.However, Opposition Chief Whip Gail Teixeira called for a division for the tabulation of the votes.During the tabulation, all 32 of the Opposition MPs voted in favour of the motion being carried, with the AFC MP giving them the one vote needed to have the motion passed. Since then, the PPP has been urging both the Government and GECOM to start preparations for elections to be held in the month of March, in keeping with the Constitution and the laws of Guyana.However, the Government has refused to recognise the legitimacy of the no-confidence motion passed and GECOM has cited that the three-month period as enshrined in the Constitution following the passing of such a motion is too short a time frame for the Commission to prepare for elections.