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By Mark DaCosta- The Office of the Leader of the Opposition (OLO) has released a statement informing that the Leader of the People’s National Congress Aubrey Norton visited the Indigenous community of Campbelltown in Region 8. During the three-day visit Norton met with residents of the village and surrounding areas including those of the municipality of Mahdia. Other reliable sources, though, have reported that the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) appeared to have actively tried to interfere with the opposition leader’s initiative.
According to reports by credible sources, The Leader of the Opposition arrived at Mahdia on the morning of Wednesday August 24. Prior to his arrival, the OLO had publicised the intended outreach. Minister of Amerindian Affairs Pauline Sukhai and a team of persons showed up at the Mahdia Aerodrome ten minutes after the opposition leader’s arrival.
It is reported that the minister commandeered the ambulance attached to the Mahdia Hospital and used the vehicle, which is equipped with sirens and flashing lights, as part of her entourage for the entirety of her stay. During the minister’s trip from the aerodrome, her entourage encountered Norton’s vehicle along a stretch of unfinished roadway. The road, which was part of a billion-dollar project, was an A Partnership for National Unity and Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) initiative. However, the PPP, upon assuming office in 2020 neglected to complete the project. As such, a long stretch of the road has only one lane and can accommodate only one line of traffic.
Minister Pauline Sookhai
A witness reports that Norton’s vehicle was forced by police to reverse some distance uphill to allow the minister’s motorcade to pass along the narrow strip of road. The witness reports that at that point, there was total confusion and a massive traffic pileup owing to there being a narrow, one-lane stretch of road, heavy traffic, and Minister Sukhai’s entourage including the ambulance with its blaring siren and flashing lights.
The OLO’s statement says that the Leader of the Opposition noted several issues during his outreach. According to the statement, one of the major issues is the fact that a school bus, which was commissioned by the APNU+AFC administration, was reassigned by the Regional Administration for the purpose of transporting material and persons not connected to the school system. Consequently, students are forced to walk for an hour to and from school each day.
The statement also said, “Three years ago the APNU+AFC administration provided that Village with potable water supply to homes, however, residents of Campbelltown are [presently] without potable water for more than two weeks because of neglect [of the supply system].”
Meanwhile, sources have informed this publication that even as the Leader of the Opposition proceeded with his community outreach, Minister Sukhai carried out interactions and other activities that appeared to compete with Norton’s pre-scheduled meetings and interactions with residents.
This publication reached out to the OLO for comment. An official at the OLO confirmed that Minister Sukhai indeed showed up in the area at the time of Norton’s planned outreach. The official said, too, that the opposition is concerned about several issues related to the matter. First, the official said, Minister Sukhai was in the region doing PPP work; not government work, and her use of government resources for PPP political work was inappropriate.
Second, her use of the ambulance was of great concern because it left the people of the area without access to an ambulance. Further, Sukhai, even in her capacity as Minister of Amerindian Affairs, has no control over the ambulance which falls within the remit of the Ministry of Health. When asked about the incomplete road, the OLO official said that the opposition is of the view that the PPP deliberately abandoned the project because the people of the Mahdia Municipality did not support that party at the last General and Regional Elections.
Minister Juan Edghill
Sources said that Minister of Public Works Juan Edghill and a team of persons arrived in the area on the following Friday, August 26. Minister Edghill and his team were observed examining, taking measurements, and surveying the stretch of unfinished roadway. One resident noted that the incident on the stretch of incomplete road may have been fortuitous because after two years of PPP abandonment, the road may possibly be completed bringing much needed relief to residents.