…as Ali assures sugar workers will return to work
It was an electrifying atmosphere on Sunday as the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) leaders exhorted the over 20,000 supporters on the West Coast of Demerara (WCD) to remember the travails of the fired sugar workers when they go out and vote on March 2.
When PPP/C Presidential Candidate, Dr Irfaan Ali took the stage at Stewartville, WCD, he opened his presentation by noting the travails of commuters from West Demerara who have to cross the old, expired floating DHB daily to work or do business in Georgetown and on East Bank. An average of 10,000 vehicles traverse the crossing daily.
Ali noted the thousands of man-hours lost to the national economy, not to mention the mental turmoil inflicted when those commuters have to waste an average of four hours daily to cross.
He committed to fulfilling the plans of the PPP Government since 2013 when a four-lane fixed-span modern concrete bridge, with clover leaf exits and entries was designed by local engineers and staff of the DHB. There were 21 expressions of interest from Chinese and Indian firms to complete the structure on a Private Public Partnership (PPP) basis. These plans were shelved by the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) regime after 2015 when it sole-sourced a $150 million design that had to be discarded since it would have to be retracted.
He then spoke directly to the sugar workers and their families, who have been impacted by the APNU/AFC decision to close sugar estates.
Ali made it clear that should the PPP win power in the upcoming General and Regional Elections, sugar workers would return to work and families in need would receive governmental assistance to get them back on their feet.
Ali, who hails from Leonora in Region Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara), said that he recognised the economic troubles facing the region. He noted that not only would the PPP use various strategies to create jobs for the general population, investments would also be made in job creation for single mothers.
Hospital, call centre
When it comes to health, Ali also proclaimed that the PPP will invest in a state-of-the-art hospital in Region Three, as well as investments into the diagnostic centres all across the country. He noted that they would make massive investments into pharmaceuticals.
Moreover, Ali spoke of investments in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector; investments which would provide high-speed Internet and would be linked with further job creation.
He reminded the enthusiastic crowd that the construction of the call centre in Tuschen was halted and committed to not only finishing the call centre but also providing incentives for more call centres to be built.
Other commitments made to the people of Region Three include the completion of the Del Conte road link from Parika to Bartica along the East Bank of Essequibo. He also spoke of building a ‘superhighway’.
Ever since the Wales Sugar Estate closed – leaving thousands of workers without jobs, many of their children were forced to find odd jobs around the community to offset expenses for their schooling.
During a visit to the village last year, parents who were sent home from the sugar industry indicated that it was very difficult to send their children to school, owing to transportation expenses and other supplementary spending for textbooks and studying materials.
In 2017, the workers were promised by the APNU/AFC coalition Government that lands from the Estate would be given to them to engage in farming and other agricultural activities to earn a living.
This publication had reported in November of last year that after two years, these lands had not been distributed to the former sugar workers and hundreds of acres had been leased to private persons, including recently, 700 acres for coconut cultivation and processing.
The Wales Estate on the West Bank of Demerara was one of four – Enmore Estate in Demerara, and Rose Hall and Skeldon in Berbice being the others — which were closed under the current Administration, leaving thousands jobless.