October 25, 2016

The return of blackouts

Dear Editor,
The sudden rise of crime in our country is now a concern for all Guyanese citizens and the reintroduction of long hours of daily blackouts makes it easier for thieves and criminals to escape from the Police and citizens.
While many voted for change they all wanted, what are we really changed from? Since the new APNU/AFC coalition came to power, crime has increased and worst yet, the long daily blackouts with school now open, many students will have tons of homework and research: how do we deal with this blackout situation? Where is this miracle change from our present Administration? If we cannot deal with blackouts in 50 years of independence then it’s not possible for us to properly govern and administrate this nation.
Guyana needs a new vision to take this nation forward – the PPP and PNC and now this APNU coalition have failed this nation and most East Indians and Africans are migrating by the droves out of Guyana in search of jobs and safety from criminals. In this modern era after 50 years of recent independence, in lots of exuberance we are still a backward nation when compared to our Caribbean, South American and Latin American neighbours. Very soon we will return to the bottle lamp days of Forbes Burnham and many erudite political scientists now predicted rice flour.
Thieves are all over our country from the city of Georgetown to Berbice and Essequibo. Our new Government failed to implement a very efficient Police Force and better technology to catch thieves and criminals. Our laws in the courts cannot protect our citizens. Too many high profile criminals are set free on bail.
What plans does the new existing Administration have to tackle this crime situation in Guyana? Our President needs to address the nation on the crime and blackouts and not the Minister of State and the Prime Minister. Crime has now become a national issue. A few days ago, a man was robbed of everything he came here with on vacation from the USA and his brother was killed. And now the blackouts help to facilitate more crimes and rogue elements. What we need is a clean Police Force and soldiers to protect our citizens every day.
It’s about time our soldiers be placed to guard Government buildings, banks and patrol the nation around the clock like Suriname. We must accept one fact that after 50 years of independence, we have become a failed nation, failing to protect the rights and dignity of our citizens. What have we really achieved after 50 years of bad administration? VS Naipaul wrote a book called An Area of Darkness that is a prophecy for Guyana because we have become a nation of darkness.

Gideon Cecil

Utility companies conspiring to run us mad

Dear Editor,
There is an old Greek philosophy which states: Whom the gods may wish to destroy, they run them mad first.
In modern civilisation, the supply of electricity along with Internet and a reliable telephone service are paramount for decent survival and development of a country.
Guyanese based overseas, visitors and investors, would have a serious dilemma adjusting to our primitive service by these two giant entities.
Both of them have no respect for their customers. They are sluggish in responding to emergencies and at times, as I am proving in a matter with the Guyana Power and Light (GPL), may be involved in eternal conspiracy to defraud the customer.
The same GPL will install a prepaid meter and the contractors/employees will not remove the postpaid meter that was there. This may be due to an attempt to blackmail and defraud the customer at a later date. Or it may merely be due to incompetence and not human error, for GPL employees are more interested, in my opinion, in conspiracies and fraud against customers.
As it stands at the moment, I am personally involved in a matter where some GPL contractors/employees/former employees, were involved in trying to defraud me and my company at a property we managed in Canje Street, Campbellville. They were arrested in a sting operation coordinated by my company and the Police. My understanding is that to date, they have not been charged. Also, I do believe that the Police did not conduct a thorough investigation by canvassing the area to build a bigger case and by failing to publish the photographs in the newspapers to invite others who may have been defrauded or attempts were made to defraud them.
In fairness to GTT, I must state that they have never been involved in any case of fraud but their bureaucracy, obviously, is too humongous and it appears that they have a tendency of losing control due to the monopoly or semi monopoly that they enjoy, similar to that of GPL.
GPL has scant regard for its customers. It is always a nightmare to visit their offices for anything.
The constant blackouts of GPL, are definitely in my opinion, an attempt to discourage support of the coalition Government. Also, I do believe that their inconsistency, bureaucratic corruption and confusion, along with fraudulent schemes against people, point to this fact.
The constant blackouts have become a nightmare for people in industry and commerce. Students have to revert to old style hand lamps and wall lamps and in some cases, rechargeable lamps. This is an unfair and burdensome reality, particularly for persons struggling to make ends meet.
In reference to GPL and the arrest of their fraudulent contractors/employees, to date, they have not approached us for any information. It is the opinion of this writer that they should be happy when citizens help them capture bandits within their authority, and should work closely with the people, with the customers and the Police. I expect GPL to be much more proactive against their employees and not to be proactive in just merely setting up customers or trying to inconvenience their lives.
GPL, as a result of its monopoly, is like one big beast that survives on the flesh and blood of those it needs to survive… its customers! They are always looking and visiting certain people with a hope to drive fear and terror in their hearts, and create ludicrous charges and claims against them to improve on their money garnering possibilities.
I wish to state that this is the one time where I tend to agree with Freddie Kissoon, columnist of Kaieteur News, who stated that: GPL is one organisation which will help to bring down the current coalition Government. Please note that the previous sentence was an indirect quote.
It is my view that GPL, like all businesses, needs to honour its honourable customers. This writer has had many problems with GPL that it hurts his heart. For a man who always tries to live in dignity and honour, GPL, on more than one occasion, has tried to create embarrassment and to eke money out of me wrongfully. As the big carnivore, despite being given evidence and facts, it refused to accept and continues to drink human blood in this country.
I know the Chairman, Robert Badal, as one of principle and dignity. I invite him to select professional person/persons to sit and listen to all my matters, some of which are in the courts, which I had to resort to, and others.
I really do hope to see a change soon. It has been too long.

Roshan Khan
RK’s Security Services

Keeping our people divided

Dear Editor,
It is most depressing to me, and I am sure all Guyanese who have the welfare of our country at heart, to see the continuing hostile attitude that seems to pervade the relationship between the present political party in power and those on the other side of the table, both in and out of Parliament, the place which has been specifically designed for them to come together and work to find programmes and projects that would work for the benefit all the people of our nation, irrespective of political persuasion or any other diversity.
Most disheartening is the fact that the overriding atmosphere in all the deliberations between these two factions is that most times we get the feeling that there is more than mere opposition to one another, but a deep feeling of acrimony at the highest level. This is evident in the manner in which they seem to explore all means to discredit the efforts of either one or the other in whatever they are engaged, not only politically, but more devastating on the personal level.
The present situation is not only troubling in that it must definitely serve to keep hampering any progress we should be making, but that it will continue to keep our people divided, thereby lessening the general national effort towards our advancement. On the psychological level, it is eating away at the self-confidence and pride which we should be displaying as citizens of a sovereign nation.
Also, in an area in which I have been proven to be specially interested and effective, it is little by little eroding the respect in our leaders and institutions in our youths, something which would have an adverse effect when the time comes for them to play their part in our national affairs.
I would like to ask all our leaders to up the level of their dialogue and interaction to the point where statesmanship and goodwill become the hallmarks of their interaction, as this would serve to create an atmosphere which would make all our people feel a part of the national effort but, more so, facilitate all their endeavours towards the material progress of our people.

Yours sincerely,
Roy Paul

What has become of Buxton cricketers?

Dear Editor,
It warms my heart to see the media highlighting the plight of the disadvantaged in this country. As a Buxtonion and an ardent cricket enthusiast I just couldn’t resist penning this letter.
It seems that the infighting over the years at the East Coast Cricket Board level and the Demerara Cricket Board level has left one question unanswered.
What has become of Buxton Cricketers? Throughout the years these cricketers have shown what it means by rising above adversities. They have travelled far and wide throughout this country when teams have refused to visit their ground, and have put forward more than credible performances against several teams.
However, for some reason, Buxtonions are not worthy of playing for the East Coast teams nor are they worthy of being selected to Demerara /National trials to stake a claim in the national team. It has gone to such an extent that one of the most accomplished athlete of this Village (Buxton) and a cricketer at heart plies his trade in the football arena instead of being solely committed to cricket.
The only reason Clive Andries is playing cricket from my estimation is due to his passion for the sport; he makes the time whether football is playing or not, to play, and contributes extensively to the success of the Buxton Carl Hooper Cricket Team whether bowling his offspin or unleashing his Andrea Russell style brutal innings on opponents.
Due to the neglect of these cricketers, it seems there isn’t the desire like in years past to do the necessary training, etc, because the reality is, the chance of selection is not there, or has not been there for whatever reason, over the past three years, especially since the fracture in the Demerara, Guyana and East Coast cricket boards. Admirably, the team continues to churn out credible performances – (a case in point, the ‘A’ team winning four out of their last 5 games) just imagine if they are motivated by a level playing field, equal opportunities and the necessary support, what can be accomplished.
Buxton Carl Hooper Cricket Club had to have been doing something right over the years, because they have produced outstanding CXC & CAPE performers, graduates from the University of Guyana, from GTI and also from CPCE, and to this date none of their players has been associated with criminal activity.
The question has to be asked, when will the time come whereby these cricketers are going to be given a fair share of the proverbial ‘cricket pie’. One thing is for sure though, throughout all the adversities faced by this cricket club since its existence in 2000, they have continued to play the sport they love so dearly.
As a Buxtonion I must say thanks to all those persons who have played or are playing for the Buxton Carl Hooper Cricket Club and to those persons or entities that have contributed in whatever way, small or big, to the development of the sport in this village.

Yours respectfully,
Marvin Cato

Guyanese lawmakers must act now

Dear Editor,
It is with a heavy heart and a desperate appeal to basic human dignity and respect for life that I write this letter on behalf of the Guyanese people. When we cast our ballots on election’s day every five years, it was not only for selecting the next President; it was a public communication of trust onto those who hold public offices will honour and uphold the social contract between the People of Guyana and the Constitution.
Public safety and security is not a privilege, but a constitutional right of every Guyanese. And it is the constitutional responsibility of the State to protect citizens from all forms of danger and threats to their life and property. When Guyanese pay taxes, they have honoured their side of the social contract. When the State fails to provide safety and security to its citizens it has effectively abandoned its constitutional duty.
It is a national disrespect to tell the people of Guyana that there is a 21 per cent decrease in crime when almost every single day someone is losing their life. As a Social Scientist, I understand and respect the role of science in policy, but common sense must also guide our decisions. Even if we disagree with the statistics, we should all be outraged if one child, father or mother is taken from their families to senseless killing or one family is traumatised from banditry. Likewise, we must all be outraged if one business is robbed, vandalised or forced to close its doors because it cannot afford to pay for its own security.
I commend the Guyana Chambers of Commerce & Industry (GCCI) for its initiative to step out of the norm and denounce such disrespect for human life and call on lawmakers to take immediate action to return communities to a place where people can pursue their happiness and live peacefully with their families. However, its proposed initiative to remove taxes for security equipment is colossally misguided. Requesting tax exemptions for security equipment might afford businesses to invest in better security systems to protect commercial properties. But focusing on businesses instead of your consumers – who are ordinary families – is like “protecting the DJ instead of the people at the party when someone screams fire.” Before long there is not a party. If we continue along this path, there will be no purpose of opening businesses.
GCCI should also recognise that calling for tax exemptions on security equipment does nothing to give investors hope and confidence that Guyana is still an economy worthy of their investment. The Chamber should use the opportunity to mobilise support and call on the Government to employ full force of the police and the military if necessary to restore peace and security in the country, even if this means declaring a “State of National Emergency.”
If families cannot feel safe in their homes, children cannot sleep and go to school without fearing for their lives and businesses cannot open doors without worrying about where bandits and robbers might come from. We are not honouring our responsibility as a sovereign nation and democracy to protect the People of Guyana.
Brutalising and terrorising families, senseless killing, breaking and entering businesses and instilling fear in communities are not Afro-Guyanese, Indo-Guyanese, Amerindians, Chinese or Portuguese problems; they are Guyanese problems, and we all must play our part in fixing it now.
We have always been a nation of strong, hard-working and peaceful people who would endure any hardship to succeed in the pursuit of our happiness and prosperity. We have as a nation answered the calls of history and fought for our freedom and the right to live our lives peacefully and with respect for each other and the law. Expecting us to sit quietly and accept such gross disrespect for human life and personal property is asking for too much.
Lawmakers must act now, or history will remind us of those chilling words “too late.” On behalf of the Guyanese people.

Dhanraj Singh

The ship is sinking fast

Dear Editor,
The half-year report from the Finance Minister underscores the dismal performance of the forestry sector under the new Government and new Board. The Ministry of Finance reported a decline in performance by over 15 per cent. The board has done everything to stymie the development of the forest sector. Analysts have exclaimed that this is perhaps the worst performance of the forestry sector in 20 years.
In less than one year of the board’s existence everything has gone through the window. Many companies have closed down or are in the process of closing down; investors’ lands are being repossessed without due process and basically leading to a total shutdown of the sector. It would be good for the board to release information on how many new investors they have attracted, how many new jobs have been created, how many new mills have been developed, how much new roads have been developed, how many new markets have been established, how much investments have been done. The answer is simply negative.
We agree that the Chinese were perhaps benefitting from some concessions, but what happened to the rest of the sector? The small man’s produces are not selling while the board seems unaware of the reality of the situation. If you go the length and breadth of this country small producers, as well as large operators are crying out there is no programme or plan to re-invigorate the sector; communities in the government stronghold of Linden and Kwakwani are crying out for help—what is the board doing?
In addition we are not hearing anything on the LCDS phase 2. We heard the board and government developing a new plan to replace the LCDS but where is it? Has Norway given any money since the new government took office? I suspect not. Given the record decline in the forest sector and the mismanagement of the sector under the new board and administration, I would urge Norway not to send any more funds to Guyana and to close off the agreement. Norway should read the Auditor General’s Report for the period when the APNU/AFC took office and see the shocking mismanagement and misuse of public funds over such a short period of time, particularly at the Ministry of Finance. So why put money into a system that is destined to misuse and mismanage the funds as it has proven while in office just over a year?
When the PPP/C was in office a particular board member was a constant critic of the President and Minister for Forestry, as well as Forestry Commissioner James Singh. But she is currently a board member so what she has to show of her knowledge and expertise of the forestry sector? A record decline in performance, while being on the GFC board! The public is calling on this particular expert to bring out all her plans and ideas she has or had for the development of the sector and Guyana as a whole. It’s time to walk the talk.
Seems to me the only solution is to get more competent people on the board, or more so in Government.
So board Chair and Minister, the ship is sinking fast; the public is waiting for Government to present A PLAN. The public is watching and slowly getting fed up.

Yours sincerely,
Carlos DeBarros, Sr
Forest Ranger (ret’d)

Lacking basic amenities at Kitty Market

Dear Editor,
Is it that the Town Clerk of Georgetown is just plain obtuse and a law onto himself, or is it that he is just simply uncaring for vendors, businesspersons and the citizenry of Georgetown?
Speaking with a number of vendors from the Kitty Market, I was advised of grave concerns they have with the design of the new Kitty Market, which is simply being ignored by the Town Clerk and the Council.
The design of the building does not allow for natural airflow and ventilation as the old design did, and when persons in the architectural field enquire as to why this was so, they were advised by the Town Clerk that this was because the entire facility would have been centrally air-conditioned for the shoppers and vendors, consistent with modern standards of shopping centres and malls.
Alas! The Town Clerk has just given an edict that only the area selling meat and seafood should be air-conditioned whilst everywhere else must be left to swelter in the heat and humidity of a virtually sealed building, as he can no longer afford to control the temperature of the rest of the building! Unbelievable!
Did he not have a budget for the construction of this facility? Is this just his call or is it the call of the entire City Council? What does the City Engineer’s, Markets and Public Health Departments have to say? What does the Central Housing and Planning Authority have to say about this? And the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry? Will all of the vendors whether in the meat and seafood section or otherwise not be required to pay a substantial rent? Does King expect the shoppers to leave the comfort of all the modern supermarkets, malls and stores in Guyana to put up with the discomfort of the hot and humid Kitty Market?
Does King realise that this is a public building and not one of his private homes, all of which incidentally are air-conditioned? What is the vendors union, the Ministry of Business and the Ministry of Communities going to do about this short-changing? What they need to find out is why the cost of constructing the Kitty Market was so enormous, yet so lacking in basic amenities and facilities?

James Mc Onnell

Re-hiring outstanding coach

Dear Editor,
The dust has settled and the Guyana Male National Football Team has been eliminated from the 2016 Scotia Bank Caribbean Cup qualifiers. Coach Jamaal Shabazz is set to resign. Will Coach Wayne Dover be given the chance to return as the national coach for the third time to lead Guyana to historic moments again?
Coach Dover was appointed national coach of Guyana in 2009 for the second time and immediately led the national team to victory in an international mini-tournament in Suriname, who were celebrating their Independence that year. The tournament was named Independence Cup. Suriname, French Guiana, Curacao and Guyana took part. Guyana won all three games by a 1 goal margin to lift the Ronald Venetian, the then President of Suriname, trophy.
Dover was retained as national coach for the 2010 Digicel Caribbean Cup and led the team in round one in Suriname, topping the group with three wins against Suriname, Curacao and St Lucia, where the team qualified for the second round in Trinidad and Tobago, in a group with Haiti, Trinidad and Tobago, and St Vincent.
Guyana qualified as the second place team in that group and moved on to the quarter-final of the 2010 Digicel Caribbean Cup in Martinique of that year where they faced Jamaica, Antigua and Guadeloupe. That year Guyana ranked it’s highest ever in its history, with 86.
This excellent performance by Dover should be looked at seriously for consideration of him being re-hired as national coach by the President of the Guyana Football Federation (GFF) Wayne Forde. This young talented Guyanese coach has excelled over the years with club and country and deserves the recognition.

Mark Xavier
Former Senior Male
National Team Manager

Aren’t we all basically human beings?

Dear Editor,
There is a real wisdom and power in Bob Dylan’s work; no one else comes even remotely close. At many different points in my life his words and music have been with me, and I know for many many others, too.
Personally, I would have just given him his own prize for being him.
I wonder if he will turn up to collect it?
If Bob Dylan thinks that this accolade needs not to be loudly proclaimed, that is good.
While winning a noble prize is a wonderful recognition, in his life journey, Dylan has reached where he is due to his inner strength. The media and others give such characterisations such as superstars, supermodels, poet laureate, honourable member, celebrity, etc that really do not mean much, for we are all basically humans and fallible.
Woe betides if the people we put on pedestals do no turn out so, for whatever reason.
Aren’t we all basically human beings?

Yours faithfully,
Rooplall Dudhnath

CoI urgently needed at M&CC

Dear Editor,
Well the litmus test has been done at the Georgetown Municipality. And by this I mean the very limited audit of the $300,000,000 that was given to City Hall by the Government was scrutinised to ascertain whether sound fiscal principles and methods were applied by the council in expending this sum.
Of course coming as no surprise there was colossal mismanagement, deliberate violations of tender procedures, non-adherence to their own financial regulations, favouritism in the engagement of contractors, etc. This proves that there could be no greater need for a comprehensive, forensic audit to be done of the entire financial system for at least the last ten years, of the entire Mayor and Councillors of the City of Georgetown.
The citizens of Georgetown need to be provided with access to the full report that was compiled by the Audit Office of Guyana. It must be part of public records, for which the citizens who are the stakeholders have an interest.
But make no mistake, the Town Clerk and the Mayor would never ever voluntarily agree to a ten-year, far-reaching, deep and thorough forensic audit of the Council’s accounts, assets and human resources.
One should not forget that perfunctory examinations done in the past have shown that loans and advances taken by some of these very senior administrators were found to have never been repaid. That one contractor, a well-known friend of a senior administrator, was awarded contracts to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars, without any adherence to tender rules, for the weeding of parapets and clearing of drains; that scores of employees who are on the payroll are close relatives and family of the ‘Gang of Four’ and other senior officers; clear acts of nepotism and cronyism; that large sums are being doled out to facilitate unnecessary foreign travel; that large sums are being wasted on needless projects such as the ‘Presidential Park, the Green Conference, and Expo; and the maintenance of a large staff assigned to a former Mayor, including cooks, gardeners, chauffeurs, bodyguards, and clerical staff that operate out of another agency, but all of whom are paid for by the Council.
There are many Commissions of Inquiries being carried out across Guyana, sometimes for things far less egregious than what is and has been going on at City Hall. Could we please have a Commission of Inquiry set up to examine the workings of City Hall?

With thanks,
Riley Matthews