by Stella Ramsaroop
(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 15 June 2007)
The situation with the road in East Canje has come to the point that President Jagdeo, the Regional Administration, the Works Ministry and the entire government system should be sorely embarrassed that these people have to beg and plea for someone to take them seriously.
I have never been to East Canje. In fact, I tried to look it up on various Guyanese maps and could not find it. I do not know their general political leaning or any of the other factors that sadly play a part in the political decisions made by the ruling party. However, none of this matters one iota because these people are Guyanese citizens.
Seriously now, this disconcerting situation is to a point that now borders something akin to child abuse. If a parent neglected a child the way this community has been neglected by its government, that parent would face strict punishment by the judicial system – possibly even jail.
In the same way, the people of East Canje must watch as the rest of the nation has been spruced up and brought into the 21st century within the last few months while they still cannot even drive to their own homes without tearing up their cars.
They also took notice earlier this month when they learned that residents in the Upper Corentyne would be receiving two water treatment plants while they still drank dirty water.
East Canje resident, Goomattie Kumar, wrote a letter to Kaieteur News on June 2 stating, “I was shocked to learn that the Upper Corentyne would be having two water treatment plants. Yes, Mr President, you have demonstrated favouritism. Is it because of the Upper Corentyne is the womb of the People's Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C)?”
Kumar insisted that while East Canje residents pay the same water bills as everyone else in the nation, “The East Canje area continues to receive water only for a few hours per day, while other areas has as many as 24 hours per day supplies. Special areas in Guyana receive purified water but we the residents of East Canje have the stinking, discoloured water which the water company distributes.”
As an independent observer, I look at this situation and raise my eyebrows to ponder what on earth the residents of East Canje could have done to be so deliberately neglected by their own government. How can any Guyanese citizen not sympathise with their fellow countrymen in this situation?
President Jagdeo has said he does not have the money for a new road, but that “remedial work” should start soon. This is an interesting statement since he had the money to help build a hotel for the World Cup that now charges astronomical prices. I wonder how many rooms sit vacant in that hotel every day?
However, there is no money for a new street in East Canje. Meanwhile there are new streets all over the place. There are even new streetlights. Oh, and a new stadium, a new shopping mall and even a new escalator. Yet the President cannot find the money for a new road for East Canje.
You got to love that can-do spirit that oozes from the PPP when it suits their purpose. Yet at other times it is something else entirely that seeps from the walls of Freedom House. Yuck!
The real question in all of this is how this East Canje street was allowed to get in such a sad state of repair in the first place. It would seem that this neglect has been going on for quite some time. I really do wish sometimes that the people of a nation would take their government to court for such god-awful neglect.
The people in East Canje pay taxes like everyone else in Guyana. They are hard-working folk who deserve decent water and a street without craters. That the President and every single person responsible for this situation have done nothing to fix it is the very definition of injustice.
Really now, will someone please give these people a new street? Surely there is someway to come up with the money for this project. Guyana had help financing the new Stadium, the new lights and other such projects. Why can’t the President be just as resourceful when it comes to a new street for the East Canje residents?
Or better yet, since the government used $168.7 million of taxpayer money to help build Buddy’s International Hotel and still has not been repaid, maybe that “buddy” should ante up the money for the new road. I’m sure that much money would go a long way toward a new road. It might even buy a water treatment system, too.