Support Village Voice News With a Donation of Your Choice.
PPP housing policy vis-à-vis Burnham
The housing situation in Guyana is disgraceful. There are enough available public/state lands that could be developed for proper housing schemes but not enough done to make it happen for the people. The last time Guyana had a National Housing Policy where communities were built, and turn-key houses delivered, was during the Forbes Burnham administration. That was a programme undertaken by the government and the trade union.
In Region 10, for instance, there are the Ameila’s Ward Housing Scheme, Wisroc Phase I, II, III and IV Housing Scheme, Ituni Housing Scheme, and Kwakwani Housing Scheme. These were schemes that emanated through negotiation with the Burnham government, the bauxite company and trade union. On completion of these projects there were properly constructed road, running water in every home and electricity.
The post 1992 housing policy of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) falls woefully short. Guyanese have had to rely on building their homes among bushes; poor or no road, drainage, and irrigation; and no electricity, water or telephone services. This is what the government threw at citizens and called the house lot allocation housing schemes. Some have been luckier and were able to benefit from private developers who, already in a ruthless housing market, provided the bare minimum and with substandard building materials.
Persons at their wit ends to own a home and avoid rent gravitated to these haphazard distributions. Under these circumstances it has been pure determination Guyanese have been able to build their prized possession, a place to call home. Their efforts are applauded, not the PPP that subject them to conditions that could have been better.
Last week the Irfaan Ali regime announced it is moving ahead with a housing programme for Region 10. The people of Linden/Region 10 should welcome the announcement. Understandably there will be apprehension, and the so-called effort by the government to remove all legal hurdles to realise this programme must be watched with gimlet eyes.
PPP/C convenient approach to house and land distribution in Region 10
Over the years successive PPP/C governments gave out the prime lands encircling the town of Linden to their supporters who, up until then, never resided in Region 10. Experience will inform the PPP will try to repeat this pattern of behaviour. It has been their tactic of political convenience for electoral purposes rather than the development of the region for the benefit of those residing within. This discrimination must cease.
The people of Linden/Region 10 must be the first to get lands. The Region’s two Members of Parliament (MPs) from the Coalition, the Regional Chairman and Councillors ought to be counted on to ensure the PPP housing programme benefits those in need. Nothing must stop the bonafide residents from ensuring their involvement in the distribution of these lands. Not even David Granger must be allowed to dissuade Lindeners from benefitting from house lot and other land distribution.
Property ownership is a constitutional right. It matters not under which government citizens benefit because what the government will be doing is carrying out its obligation and responsibility to the people.
The 2012 struggle against discrimination
The 2012 struggle waged by the people of Linden/Region 10, under the youthful leadership of then Regional Chairman Sharma Solomon and Member of Parliament Vanessa Kissoon, must continue to reap dividends.
Linden became a Depressed Community during the stewardship of the PPP/C. In November 1992 that government began putting systems in place to dismantle the bauxite industry. In 1993 they reduced production by half and used this as the front to put thousands of workers on the breadline. After that the government broke up the bauxite workers’ pension plan, then worth in excess of over $2.5 billion, which represented the single largest pool of money owned primarily by African workers.
The gruesome murder of Ron Somerset, Shemroy Bouyea, and Allan Lewis on 18th July 2012 at the hands of the police must not be in vain. They gave their lives for the people of the region to achieve economic development, better land and housing distribution, and affordable electricity.
The PPP/C is doing Region 10 no favour. Over the years the residents fought for the right to own property to be respected. It needs not be forgotten that it was the PPP/C that took away the Region 10 Land Selection Committee and placed it in the hands of those who did not live in the region or care about what happened in the region other than how they could take the lands for their own benefit.
It has been more than quarter of a century, almost 29 years to be exact, these residents have been waging a valiant struggle to enjoy the right to free speech, the right to work, to own their home, to a pension and economic empowerment, all of which were either taken away or strangled. So when they see the PPP/C driving in and making promises, do not forget it is their obligation to right the wrongs they did to Lindeners/Region 10.
Since November 1992 unto May 2015 the Region has been under constant assault by the PPP/C. Their wretched policies have brought a proud people almost to a state of scrunting. Let the regime now atone for their wrongs and economic injustices that have caused a natural resources-rich region, with a viable product (bauxite), to be classified a Depressed Community. Lindeners/Region 10 are a group of people with a sterling record of self-determination. This spirit must be invoked, once again, in holding the PPP’s feet to the fire to make sure the lands are first given to them.