Residents of the West Watuka farming community in Linden, Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice) on Wednesday voiced a number of concerns with Minister within the Natural Resources Ministry, Simona Broomes.
Members of the farming community took the opportunity to voice their concerns during a visit by the Minister, who was at the time distributing farming tools. Chairman of the community’s Farmers Development Council Arthur Johnson pointed to some major concerns, including inaccessibility to water.
He said that farmers are forced to fetch water from the West Watuka residential area. The area’s farming community has approximately 103 live-in farmers and approximately 50 per cent of these have families. The section of the community consists of approximately 700 metres of land. Farmers indicated that though water is obtained from a canal, it is too far away.
A farmer told this publication that the water lines are cut off at the residential area.
“One of our biggest concerns right now in this community is water…we asking all the relevant authorities and they saying they don’t have pipe, they don’t have manpower,” Johnson told the Minister.
He noted that farmers are willing to do self-help if given the pipelines.
Speaking to Johnson and the Minister via cell phone, Managing Director of the Guyana Water Inc, Dr Richard Van West-Charles said he will seek to have a company representative visit the area, noting that the company will try its best to respond. The Minister promised to follow-up.
Meanwhile, a fourth form student of the community also shared her concerns.
“My main concern is internet and street lights because sometimes we come from lesson late in the night and the road does be dark,” she explained.
Farmer Ernestine Culpeper also noted that students in the area have to walk long distances to receive internet access.
The Minister said she will lobby with Public Telecommunications Minister, Cathy Hughes for an internet hub to be set up in the farming community, while Johnson noted that the community centre can be utilised.
Minister Broomes said the situation regarding street lights is a major and “ridiculous” one as she promised to liaison to have it corrected.
“We do have a street lights project pushing. I’m going to get Minister Patterson and this is no promise but things I will act upon,” she said.
Speaking with this publication, farmers also called on the relevant authorities to look into the state of the community’s access road which is in a deplorable condition.
They noted that this affects the transport of their produce and in some cases, they are made to pay high taxi fares. The farmers also pointed to the lack of landline telephones, limited opportunities in acquiring farmland and inaccessibility to loans.
Minister Broomes told residents that she will relay their concerns to relevant Ministers while noting that she will also seek to have Regional Member of Parliament Jermaine Figueira visit the area along with a local team. The Minister also visited the recently burnt-out Victory Valley Community Centre and made a donation of a wheelchair to a resident of West Watuka.