The community of Coverden: Peaceful but in need of Development 

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By Lisa Hamilton  

The community of Coverden along the East Bank of Demerara is a peaceful one. Residents boast that it is free of serious crime and knitted together with families which share amicable relationships.

Rayanne Datson stands next to her honey stand

However, though relations are good, many in the community are concerned that for years there has been no development in the village to improve roadways and drainage and there are no recreational facilities to cater to its large number of youths. Though there are plans for the setting up of a Waste Treatment Facility Project in their community by Global Oil Environmental Services (GOES), many residents said that they aren’t well informed about the project. What they do know, is that the aforementioned challenges in their community are in need of attention.

VERY BAD ROADS 

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“Coverden is a very nice place but the only thing is we need a good road. The road is very, very, very bad, especially when the rain falls we can’t really walk. It’s slushy with nuff holes,” said Roshanna Wills, a young woman who owns a fruit and vegetable stand close to the public road.

Pointing to the Lot 3 Coverden area, she said that the entire stretch of houses through the specific area is owned and occupied by descendants of one family. Further inquiry by the Village Voice News revealed that the main family name is Benjamin, though others may carry a different surname due to marriage. To support herself and her family, Wills works along with her mother who farms along the Demerara River and sends the produce to her daughter for sale. When this isn’t possible, she purchases fruits and vegetables from Georgetown.

Roshanna Wills, a young woman who owns a fruit and vegetable stand close to the public road.

While speaking with the news entity, her sister, Latoya Williams, was emerging from the ‘very bad road’ in question along with her four children. Three of them — a boy and twin girls — were wearing long boots while Williams carried her two-month-old son in her arms.

After speaking with Williams, she revealed that her children needed to wear long boots so that they could enter and exit the road without muddying their feet. “This road is very bad. I live till down to the back and when the rain falls the place is very slushy. If we could get the road done that would be good for us. All the years I’m here they never did it,” she said.

The woman works at the KuruKuru Training Center and was on the way to her children’s school nearby to the Soesdyke junction to collect the learning materials they needed. Despite the developmental challenges within Coverden, she believes that it is a very pleasant place to live.

POOR DRAINAGE MAKES IT WORSE 

Meanwhile, perched close to the main road also but on the opposite side is a small white stand holding up several bottles of honey branded as ‘Charay’s Pure Honey’. The owner of the small business, Rayanne Datson, has lived in Coverden for some 20 years.

“I enjoy living here because it’s a very quiet area, we don’t have any kind of big robbery and those things. It’s just a cool and nice environment to live in,” she said.

Telling of how she entered the honey business, Datson said that in the past she was self-employed selling vegetables and ground provision. However, when people visited her stand, they would often ask for just honey. She began including the product along with the vegetables and provisions until she had only honey on sale.

Latoya Williams along with her four children and two relatives

Her honey is sourced from as far as Lethem or from the Soesdyke-Linden Highway and Berbice. Her husband assists with bottling the honey while she takes charge of labelling and selling. Currently, Datson is content with her small business as it is. What she is discontent with is the drainage system within the community and the roads. “Coverden needs proper drainage, it’s really bad,” she said.

Continuing within Lot 3 Coverden, the Village Voice News met up with Carol Primo who also highlighted challenges with drainage in the community. “This land runs right down to the conservancy but, basically, drainage is our problem. When we get heavy rains the water is not going off fast enough and the road becomes bumpy and filled with holes,” she said.

Primo has grown up in Coverden since she was a child and even saw the deterioration of the brick factory opposite her house over time. Now, an adult, she doesn’t want to see the deterioration of her community in any form.

RECREATIONAL FACILITIES NEEDED 

She also noted that her community lacks entertainment and recreational facilities. Primo implored: “One of the things we’re really asking for is a lil playfield because we have a lot of children in the community…we have to go out of the village to visit other ball fields and our neighbours like Pearl [community] don’t have a ball field there either.”

Just as the newspaper concluded conversations with Primo, Charles Benjamin was noticed exiting his home. It was later revealed that he was the man that had been piling pieces of concrete into the many holes within the road so that vehicle owners could have a better –though not perfect — experience.

“I’ve been living here almost 20 years and nothing was done about the road,” he said. “There are about two or three more roads into Coverden and some might be little more worse than this.” He said that Sheldon Benjamin, his cousin, has gathered the signatures of the residents at Lot 3 Coverden which he recently took to the Coverden-Soesdyke Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) in request for repairs. Charles also pointed to the absence of a playfield in Coverden noting that families have to travel all the way to Soesdyke or Timehri to access such.

Sheldon Benjamin who has taken up the initiative of representing his community

Later, speaking with Sheldon, he confirmed his plans to meet with the NDC as well as the Land Court to deal with the matter of land ownership at the Lot 3 area for 13 individuals.

He explained: “Some of the residents don’t have the lands directly in their name. It might be in the name of their ancestors — some great grandmother or great uncle. For example, our land is in Struthers and we want to have it transferred to Benjamin. Struthers is our great grandmother and great uncle and this is before Benjamin, the Struthers died over time…because documentation is not 100 per cent, some of the villagers in Coverden don’t really get the kind of help that they should get — documentation such as transport for land and proper land titles.”

Regarding the road, he said that the NDC had stated that it would complete a 1,000 feet road months ago but no work has commenced as yet. On the matter of the need for a playfield, Sheldon said that authorities can go a step further by developing a recreational centre for the community which has land space to accommodate such. “It would bring more togetherness. See what areas our young people are skilled in — cricket, tennis, football — so we can give them a boost and a push,” he said, adding: “If [these companies] are on a move to help, I think that would be a good thing to do.”



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