The incumbent Government has made good on a campaign promise to residents of Bethany to return to the villages once elected to office and address the many challenges villagers face.
This promise was delivered on Sunday last when Vice President and Minister of Indigenous Peoples Affairs’ Sydney Allicock led a high level Government team to the Indigenous Village which is located approximately seven miles along the winding Supenaam River.
The team included Regional Executive Officer Mr. Rupert Hopkinson Member of Parliament Hemraj Rajkumar and several regional councilors.
Among the issues raised by residents were challenges faced in the Health and Education Sectors and proper consultations as well as the issue of village protocols being breeched particularly by contractors.
Two outspoken residents senior community member Banes Thomas and Midwife Ramona Thomas spoke to transgressions by contractors who would most of the times visit the village unannounced and fail to report the reason for their visit.
This was the case only recently when a contractor and team sought to undertake the renovation of the roofing for the Health Center since it was infested by bats and termites and it was unsafe for the daily operations of the facility.
A section of the villagers attending the meeting.
The midwife noted with concern that “we would see a contract just come and start measuring you know and I am responsible for the Health Center and I would like to at least hear from the contractor what they are about and not just walk in without saying anything to anybody. I would like to see that changed”.
To date the roofing for the Health Centers was successfully replaced; however, a request was made for special attention to be placed on the water system, toilet facilities, yard maintenance, provision for a cleaner, completion of landing stelling and repairs to the Health Center’s.
A request was also made for the provision of fuel to the village on a needs basis to cover transportation associated with transporting the sick to the hospital.
Meanwhile, the issue has raised an even greater concern where collectively residents have called for more consultations on projects being executed in the village.
Banes Thomas said “many times villagers are not consulted on projects done in the village and I believe that we as a village should be involved in whatever project is going on here whether it’s the region or the Ministry working on in our village”.
He added that many times projects executed there are done in a haphazard manner since there is none or very little community involvement.
Minister Allicock in responding to these two major concerns raised, noted that while Government aims to give equal attention to every village, challenged the Toshao to be more pro-active in disseminating information to the villagers which will alleviate these concerns.
Minister of Indigenous Peoples Affairs addressing villagers.
The Minister added that these challenges can be overcome since “there are 115 Indigenous villages across the country and we have to engage all of them and since you are easier to access, you are at the center and so you are at an advantage where you can get everything that can help you move forward use the opportunity to get what you want”.
On the issue of contractors entering the village unannounced Minister Allicock challenged the Toshao to have this issue immediately corrected.
Sharing similar sentiments R.E.O Rupert Hopkinson said villagers must be able to take ownership of projects executed in the villages and therefore must be aware of works being carried out.
A call was made by parents and teachers for assistance with the provision of school furniture since according to Acting Head Teacher Miss Rhonda Grant there is a limited amount of furniture for the students.
In this regard the R.E.O sought to address the situation and asked residents who have the skill set to produce furniture to take up this opportunity; while assuring that it will boost the village’s economic activity.
Other interventions to be made by the region include the possibility of supporting a school’s feeding program, seeking out the possibility of establishing a secondary department within the primary school since one single parent said this would ease the financial strain of having to send her child to school on the coast daily, repairing the roofing for the school building.
One boat builder Mr. Fiedtkou promised to furnish the village with a boat and an outboard engine to transport secondary school children to and from school from the beginning of the new school year.
An issue that has been plaguing the village for more than two years is several failed attempts to regaining control of the Villages Community Center which is currently in the control of a resident and former Councilor.
The issue was placed squarely on the shoulders of the ably R.E.O who is expected to bring closure to the matter.