President David Granger was on Wednesday greeted by former sugar workers as he arrived in Corriverton, Berbice to deliver an address on Local Government Elections (LGE).
The severed workers protested, demanding their severance pay without delay.
The Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) closed the Skeldon and Rosehall Sugar Estates in December last year and has since only paid the workers half of their severance.
The disgruntled protestors who were also supported by the people Progressive party (PPP) which has been in the forefront condemning the closure of the estates, also used the opportunity to protest over the poor performance of the Skeldon Hospital.
“The Hospital is not functioning as it should, it doesn’t have drugs. People go there and are given prescriptions to go to private pharmacies to purchase the drugs that doctors at the Hospital are prescribing,” Regional Party Chairman Zamal Hussain told this publication.
The Party also called on the President to intervene as it relates to the Guyana Elections Commission’s (GECOM’s) perceived position on the upcoming LGE.
“There is a lot of fraud. Corruption reeks at GECOM. We have been saying that this will happen from the time the President unilaterally elected Patterson as the chairman.” Husain said.
It was on October 19 that President David Granger appointed retired Justice James Patterson, 84, as the new GECOM chairman.
“We are very concerned of this unilateral decision taken by the President to appoint the GECOM Chairman and it should be rescinded because this is unconstitutional… This action is a recipe for rigged elections and we are here to protest against the dark days coming back to Guyana and this is something we are trying to stop. The GECOM Chairperson is the key in how the 2020 elections will be run,” Hussain said.
Hussain spoke on behalf of some ex-estate workers who were present at the protest. Their severances he said should be the full payment and not 50 per cent.
Moreover, Hussain is calling on the Government to provide transportation for children in the various areas, whose parents are now jobless.
Meanwhile, addressing hundreds at the Corriverton Primary, the Head of State said there is more progress and greater productivity when more persons participate in LGE.
He said LGE is a constitutional right of each citizen.
“You now have a chance to exercise that right for the second time since the APNU [A partnership for National Unity] came into office.”
He said Corriverton is a fundamental part of the country since it is the base of Guyana. “You are the commercial capital of Berbice.”
The Region which once had 152,000 persons only had 104,000 when his administration took office.
Granger said the Town has all of the ingredients to become a striving community.
“What is holding you back, is the administration that you have here. You have to go out to the polls and change that.”
He said the town needs strong leaders to direct its 12,000 residents in the right direction. We need people with a vision.
“This prosperity is not for persons of one party, it is for everyone and their children,” the head of State said.
The President urged for a massive mobilization exercise to be carried out saying that it should be done on a house to house basis.
“So that every adult is brought into the web of Local Government Elections and understand the need for Local Government Elections.”
The Head of State also noted that community members need to form themselves into organisations as they prepare for the November 12 LGE.