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Thursday, April 06, 2006
Stories from the Guyana Chronicle

Bulbs from Cuba to reduce energy consumption

BULB EXCHANGE: A member of the Cuban team replacing an incandescent bulb with a compact fluorescent type yesterday at State House in Georgetown. (Quacy Sampson photo)

THE exchange programme with incandescent bulbs (filament bulbs) being replaced by high-quality and low energy compact fluorescent bulbs has successfully started with the process already completed in several communities including Linden, Kwakwani and Aroaima in Region 10 (Upper Demerara/Upper Berbice).

The programme resulted from an offer made by Cuban President Fidel Castro to President Bharrat Jagdeo during his visit there in January, to assist Guyana to reduce its electrical energy consumption.

President Castro offered to provide Guyana with compact fluorescent bulbs, and a nine-man Cuban team, comprising eight social workers and an electrical engineer, is here executing the exchange programme, estimated to last for three to four months.

The programme continued yesterday with bulbs being replaced at State House, the official residence of the President, and the Prime Minister’s residence.

Team leader Michael Terry Morales told reporters that the programme has been very successful in Cuba where it has significantly reduced energy consumption.

According to Morales, the programme will not only result in family and national savings, but will prolong the life of natural resources as well.

He explained that the compact fluorescent bulbs have a lifespan over five times that of filament bulbs. Filament bulbs last for about 1,000 hours, while the compact fluorescent ones last for about 6, 000 hours.

He added that Cuba is prepared to donate all the bulbs needed to replace the incandescent ones. In addition, he observed that a compact fluorescent bulb of lower wattage produces the same brightness and loses less energy in the form of heat compared to incandescent bulbs of a higher wattage.

The bulbs are Chinese made, with the Philips brand name, and were obtained through an agreement between Cuba and China, Morales said.

He noted that during their work in Linden and Kwakawani, residents were very cooperative and accepted them willingly.

Apart from houses, incandescent bulbs will be replaced at schools, hospitals and government buildings. (CHAMANLALL NAIPAUL)

Sit-in severely disrupts postal services
WITH the protest action by Guyana Post Office Corporation employees now expanded to include a countrywide sit-in, a top GPOC representative has questioned the motives behind the strike, while another has said that the action is in breach of procedure.

According to GPOC Chairman, Bishop Juan Edghill, there is no trade or industrial dispute between the union and the GPOC management, but rather “a sinister plot with ulterior motives” which is fuelling the present postal employees’ sit-in and other protest actions in recent days. The action has been prompted by the General Postal and Telecommunication Workers’ Union (GP&TWU).

Responding to the issue of workers taking the action because of the suspension of a staff member, Edghill said this was done pending an investigation. He added that the charges brought against the employee are very serious and the present investigation concerns the improper handling of a package from which valuables were removed.

“It is alleged that he has abused the sergeant in charge of internal security and he has also been abusive to the Security Manager and the public needs to know that,” Edghill declared.

He is alleging that the employee’s superior is a union member and he failed to take action in the matter. According to Edghill, the union Vice President, also the superintendent of the mails branch, and the union’s Assistant General Secretary, who is also the monitor in charge of dispatching mails, were also allegedly involved in an illegal practice.

He described the protest as “strong armed tactics by individuals who would like to protect themselves from meeting with the disciplinary code of the GPOC.”

Responding to the allegations of the Police hassling staff members, Edghill said: “Why if you are not involved in anything you simply cannot cooperate with a police investigation?”

He described the non-recognition of the GP&TWU workers representation on the board as “hogwash” noting that they are represented by the union’s past President Ms Cynthia Evans whose term expires on June 30 this year. According to Edghill, the union held an election where a new president took office but that does not mean that the GPOC board can evict the current representative.

“If they want another representative, they need to ask Ms Evans for her resignation, inform the subject minister about a vacancy, and he will appoint,” the Chairman stated.

Meanwhile, according to an official release from the GPOC, signed by Postmaster General Stanton Halley, the GPOC only became aware of the sit-in at 00:07 h yesterday.

“The union,” stated the release, “was invited to meet with management immediately on receipt of a letter dispatched to them early today. Additionally, the union was advised of their breach of the Grievance Procedure of the Collective Labour Agreement…”

The statement acknowledged that the action disrupted operations yesterday, noting that some “very dedicated staff” stayed on to provide postal services to the public.

“We wish to thank our valued customers for understanding our position and those very dedicated workers who are providing the service,” it stated.

Meanwhile, support for the sit-in at various post offices countrywide seemed to be strong yesterday, although postal employees at various locations around the country did not seem quite clear about the issues at hand.

GPOC employees on the Essequibo Coast went on strike yesterday and all six post offices were closed to the public.

The strikers staged a sit-in on Tuesday, depriving hundreds of pensioners of old age and other monetary benefits they were hoping to collect.

Some of the senior citizens were without food and water during their long wait before they were told the disappointing news of the work stoppage.

The industrial action by postal staffers in the ‘Cinderella County’ is affecting other residents, businesses and more government workers, too.

One postmaster of a post office on the Corentyne said that he alone was at work yesterday. He has two employees, one of whom did not come in as part of the protest, while the other has been on sick leave since last week. The man said that he was not informed about the reasons for striking, so he was not comfortable in taking part.

On the East Coast Demerara, one postmaster said his staff had already started working yesterday but stopped after receiving a call from the union. He and his staff stayed in office until closing time at 16:00 h yesterday but did not continue work. Asked whether he was aware of the reasons for the protest, he stated that he was told by the union but was not willing to impart the information at the time.

GPOC Chairman Edghill yesterday urged young postal workers who have taken to the streets not to be misguided, misinformed and misled and not be fooled by people who are covering their personal interests. He stated that some persons are basically resisting the cracking down in corruption and indiscipline.

“I am not liked,” stated Edghill, “because of my anti-corruption stance.”

Media referees meet President
PRESIDENT Bharrat Jagdeo yesterday met members of the Media Monitoring Unit Refereeing Panel for the upcoming elections at the Office of the President, Georgetown.

The referees, journalists Lennox Grant and Wyvolyn Gager, who met signatories to the Media Code of Conduct Tuesday, said they will dedicate their efforts to leave an impression that would last long after the narrow elections time frame would have concluded.

Mr. Grant and Ms Gager of Trinidad and Jamaica, respectively, are on an exploratory visit here.

In photo with the President are Mr. Lennox Grant, left, GECOM media consultant Mr. Tim Neale, second left, and Ms Wyvolyn Gager, right. (Photo, courtesy Office of the President)

Police destroy ganja field
EAST Coast Demerara Police yesterday destroyed some 3,000 marijuana (ganja) plants.

The plants were found growing at Cove & John south, Police said.

Police conducted the eradication exercise between 05:00 h and 07:00 h.

No one was arrested, Police said in a press release.

UK groups plan grand 40th Independence observances
THE Guyana High Commission in the United Kingdom is spearheading plans for the grand observance of Guyana’s 40th independence anniversary celebration in the UK.

A statement from the Guyana High Commission in London said the commission is coordinating its efforts with The Federation of Guyanese Nationals (TFGN) and other groups in the Guyanese diaspora in the UK.

It said High Commissioner Laleshwar Singh convened a meeting on March 20 with representatives of TFGN and other organisations to agree on an appropriate programme of activities to observe the nation’s 40th anniversary.

Apart from the diplomatic events which the High Commission would undertake, the mission will collaborate with TFGN on a programme that includes a multi-faith service, a gala black-tie dinner and dance, and a grand fun day at the popular Crystal Palace Stadium in London. The organisers anticipate an attendance of between 10,000 to 15,000 people at the fun day.

In addressing the meeting with The Federation of Guyanese Nationals, Singh reportedly noted the significance of Guyana’s 40th independence anniversary. He said that the country is at a significant point of its development and urged the Guyanese community in the UK to continue to show the unity which must characterise a diverse society like ours.

Over the years, the Guyana High Commission has enjoyed cordial and mutually beneficial relations with the Guyanese diaspora in the United Kingdom.

The latter has always been among the most generous in their support to Guyana in times of natural disasters as well as with charitable donations and tangible contributions in the critical areas of health, education and the judicial system, the commission stated.

More than 70 Guyanese organisations are registered with the UK High Commission and the official estimate of Guyanese living in the UK is about 70,000.

Garbage along Mainstay route to be cleared shortly
ANNA Regina Town Clerk Ganga Persaud has announced that garbage along the shoulders of the road leading to Lake Mainstay will be removed shortly.

He said the cleared refuse will be buried in several temporary pits to be dug and those locations would be monitored daily.

Mr Persaud said trees will be planted to beautify the route and persons caught dumping there would be prosecuted.

According to him, the municipality has identified a permanent dump site at High Point, Dawa in Tapakuma but it is yet to be developed.

Up to now, residents of the Essequibo Coast township usually discard waste, old vehicles and scrap iron on the way to Lake Mainstay Holiday Resort, creating a very ugly and dirty picture for tourist visitors.

Solar systems Region Two Amerindian health posts
THE Regional Administration has announced that the government, through the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs, will set up solar systems to deliver eletricity at the Mashabo, Mora (Wakapoa) and Karawah health posts in Region Two (Pomeroon/Supenaam).

A release said Akawini and Wakapoa will also get brush cutters while St Monica and Capoey would receive outboard motors.

The statement said Kabakaburi is getting a wooden boat, Karawab a radio communication set and village offices would be built at Bethany and Mashabo.

Meanwhile, economic projects will be undertaken at Wakapoa, Bethany, Mainstay and Kabakaburi.

EAB trains field workers

WORKSHOP GROUP: Participants and facilitators. (Photo, courtesy EAB)

THE Electoral Assistance Bureau (EAB) on Monday held a training workshop for field workers from Regions One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven and 10.

The bureau, in a press release, said the workshop dealt with the protocol, process and programme for verifying a random sample of 1,200 names from the Preliminary List of Electors (PLE), once this list is made available by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).

There were 35 participants -- 22 females and 13 males – including the selected field workers and some coordinators, who will also participate in the field check, it said.

The organisation explained that training for field workers from Regions Eight and Nine will take place on location, given the high cost of transportation.

“The active participation of the field workers in the workshop led to some important revisions in the check list that is to be used in the verification process. The shared experiences from those who had worked with the EAB in previous elections, as field workers, made the whole workshop a success”, it reported.

Facilitators of the workshop were Mr David Yhann, Project Director; Fr Malcolm Rodrigues, Chairman, and Ms Samantha Philander, Project Officer.

When the field testing of the sample list is ready to commence, the EAB said it will make a public announcement.

Members of the public are being asked to be on the lookout for the announcement and to cooperate with the EAB field workers, who will be issued with EAB identification cards and letters of introduction.

GPHC refutes negligence charge about shot man
THE management of Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) yesterday issued a press release, refuting the allegation by relatives of shot teenager Terrence Moffat that he died there earlier this week because staff at the Accident and Emergency Unit (A&E) failed to attend him promptly.

The negligence charge was in a Kaieteur News article on Monday.

But the release, intended to set the record straight, said Moffat arrived at the institution around 12:33 h on Sunday and was registered, triaged and seen by a doctor within one minute.

However, he was pronounced dead on arrival by the A&E doctor who examined him, the release said.

The statement said GPHC extended heartfelt condolences to relatives of the deceased for their “irreplaceable loss.”

Moffat nicknamed Santa, 19, was beaten and fatally shot in the neck and shoulder about 12:20 h on April 2 by a man who allegedly attacked him from behind.

‘Trouble’, others remanded after armed robbery
FOUR men, who are alleged to have committed a daring daylight robbery, at Bush Lot, West Coast Berbice, last Saturday, were refused bail when they appeared before Magistrate Kim Kyte-John yesterday.

The quartet, Reginald Permaul, Rudolph Calvan and Michael Fraser of Rose Hall town, Corentyne and Imgram Bronco, of Charlestown, Georgetown, were all remanded to prison until April 20.

They were denied bail after Police Corporal Lance Ferreira, prosecuting, objected to the grant, citing, among other issues, the gravity of the offence.

The Prosecutor also disclosed that two of the four prisoners on remand are facing charges for similar offences in other Magistrates’ and High Courts.

At Blairmont Court, West Bank Berbice, yesterday, Permaul, Calvan, Fraser and Bronco were jointly charged on two counts of armed robbery.

The allegations against them are that they robbed businessman Shazim Shamin of $12,000 and Fazeena Singh of $226,408, while being armed with firearms, at Bush Lot.

Permaul alias ‘Trouble’ and Fraser called Mikey faced, as well, a joint charge of discharging loaded firearms at a Police officer with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

The same two, Permaul and Fraser, in that order, were on two more charges each, of being in possession of unlicensed 7.65 ‘Taurus’ pistols and having two rounds and three rounds, respectively, of .32 ammunition, without being the holders of firearm licences.

All the offences were alleged on April 1, when Police from Fort Wellington station responded promptly to a report about the crimes at 17:00 h and arrested the suspects following a lively chase through the not far away villages of Number 22 and Hopetown, also at West Coast Berbice.

Reports said shots were fired at the cops during the hot pursuit and, eventually, arms and ammunition were recovered and two of the men captured.

PNCR hosts women’s forum

A SECTION of the gathering at the forum. (Photo, courtesy PNCR)

THE People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) in collaboration with its women’s arm, the National Congress of Women (NCW), last Saturday hosted a women’s forum under the theme ‘A Vision of Sisterhood is Vital for the Development of Guyana’ at the Georgetown Club.

Some 200 women from various organisations and groupings including religious, trades union, youth, social and professional, political as well as unsung heroines gathered to discuss issues related to women, a release from the PNCR said.

The activity, which took the form of a panel discussion, included presentations from Ms Patrice La Fleur, United Nations Population Fund, Liaison Officer, Guyana, who looked at Beijing+5, Millennium Goals and Networking; Ms Akesha Simpson, final year student, University of Guyana, who dealt with issues affecting young women; Ms Clarissa Riehl, M.P., Attorney-at-law and Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly who discussed some legal issues; Rtd. Col Christine King, Chief Executive Officer, Ethnic Relations Commission who spoke on social issues and Dr Karen Boyle, a Public Health Specialist and Physician who discussed health issues.

The statement said each panellist took the opportunity to analyse the current situation and offer recommendations for the future.

It added that Mr Deryck Bernard, member of the Central Executive Committee of the PNCR, responded on behalf of the party and indicated that the concerns raised would be taken into consideration in the formulation of the party’s platform for the upcoming general and regional elections.

Complementing the forum was an exhibition of art, craft, ceramics and fabric painting mounted by the Department of Creative Arts of the University of Guyana.

The programme was chaired by Ms Supriya Singh, Director of Public Relations and member of the Central Executive Committee of the PNCR and featured an opening prayer by a participant, Pastor Coreen Patterson of Jesus Deliverance Mission.

This was followed by the welcome and opening remarks by the National Chairperson of the NCW, Ms Cheryl Sampson; a poem entitled “Here’s to the Woman” read by Ms Genevieve Allen, acting National Secretary of the NCW.

The statement also indicated that two beautifully rendered songs from Ms Miriam Corlette-Williams and the appreciation from Ms Amna Ally, member of the Central Executive Committee of the PNCR were also featured on the programme.

A brief reception followed the proceedings.

Bird flu kills Cambodian boy, infects Egyptian baby
PHNOM PENH, (Reuters) - The death of a boy of 12 in Cambodia and the case of a sick baby girl in Egypt underlined yesterday the threat posed to children by the bird flu virus.

In Europe, experts called for new precautions because cats, and possibly other mammals, can be infected and could spread the virus. Dr Albert Osterhaus, of Erasmus University in Rotterdam, warned that cats may help the virus to adapt into a more highly infectious strain in humans which could spark a pandemic.

H5N1 bird flu has spread rapidly across Europe and the Middle East in recent weeks, and has flared anew in Asia.

Germany said yesterday that tests had shown a form of H5N1 had spread to domestic fowl on a large farm in the eastern state of Saxony.

Several European Union countries, including Germany, have reported cases of avian flu in wild birds, but most have managed to keep it out of domestic flocks. France, in February, was the first EU nation to report an outbreak on a poultry farm.

Britain found H5N1 bird flu in a dead swan in Scotland and tests are under way to see if it is the deadly H5N1 strain, the government said yesterday. Results are due today.

Officials have set up a three km (1.8 mile) protection zone in Fife, eastern Scotland, where the bird was found. A further 10km surveillance zone is in force.

"Measures to restrict the movement of poultry, eggs and poultry products from these zones will be brought into effect immediately," a government statement said.

Bird flu remains essentially an animal disease, but can infect people who come into direct contact with infected birds. It has killed 108 people since late 2003, according to the most recent figures from the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Experts fear it will mutate into a form that passes easily from person to person, sparking a pandemic in which millions could die and crippling the global economy.

Children who play outdoors in areas shared with backyard poultry are one of the groups most at risk.

In the latest case in Cambodia, a boy from the southeastern province of Prey Veng, abutting Vietnam, died on Tuesday night, said Michael O'Leary, the WHO representative in Phnom Penh.

He said a laboratory in the capital confirmed the boy was infected with the H5N1 avian flu virus.

Two Egyptian women have died of bird flu in recent weeks.

Egypt said its latest human case was a baby girl from the south of the country whose father raised birds in his home.

"This case was discovered on Tuesday and tests carried out ... showed that the case was positive," Health and Population Minister Hatem el-Gabali said, adding that she was in a stable condition after receiving treatment.

Fears over the virus have grown in pet-loving Europe after reports that cats in Germany had become infected.

Animals such as dogs, foxes, ferrets and seals may also be vulnerable to infection, researchers said in a commentary in the journal Nature.

They recommended that in areas where avian flu is endemic, cats should not be in contact with birds or their droppings. Cats may need to be kept indoors and if animals or other carnivores show signs of illness they should be tested for H5N1.

"Perhaps there is a case for developing a vaccine for cats as well," Osterhaus told Reuters.

There is no evidence that people can contract bird flu through eating properly cooked meat, but the spread of the virus has depressed poultry sales in many markets.

Germany said it would start culling to prevent the spread of bird flu after finding it on a farm which houses more than 16,000 turkey, geese and chickens. A state official confirmed it was the highly pathogenic form of the virus.

"This is the first case of H5N1 in domestic fowl (in Germany) and this makes it somewhat explosive," Saxony's Minister of Social Affairs, Helma Orosz, told a news conference. "Tonight we will start to kill all the birds."

(Reporting by Darren Schuettler in Bangkok, Amil Khan in Cairo, Pat Reaney and Peter Griffiths in London and Louis Charbonneau in Berlin)

Bird Flu Committee targets small farmers, wildlife trappers
…in campaigns
THE Animal Health Sub-Committee of the Ministry of Agriculture, in its continuing awareness campaigns, has targeted small farmers and wildlife trappers to educate them about Avian Influenza, more well-known as Bird Flu.

The Government Information Agency (GINA) said the persistent efforts are to ensure that Guyana is fully prepared to respond to any outbreak of the disease.

Consequently, among the birds being closely monitored are migratory ones found in remote locations and are potential targets for local wildlife trappers involved in commercial enterprises.

GINA said that category is also more likely to make direct contact with domesticated birds and teams from the ministry have started educating wildlife trappers about the flu virus and its spread while sensitising associations and farmers in small scale commerce.

Minister of Health, Dr Leslie Ramsammy had previously pointed out that there has not been any confirmed report of human to human transmission of the sickness but cautioned against ruling it out.

He said: “So far, we know that the transmission has not occurred from one person to the next and one of the positive things we have seen, thus far, is that we have no evidence that it has gone from a wild bird to humans. All the cases, thus far, have been from domestic birds to humans. It is usually from wild birds to domestic birds and from domestic birds to humans.”

GINA said the Ministry of Health has also been preparing a clinical response, in the event people become affected.

Ramsammy added: “It is only a matter of time before the virus perfects its movements from domestic birds to man and then what you would see is a more rapid transmission and not the ones and twos that we see now occurring only on a weekly basis.”

Meanwhile, Technical Manager in the Agriculture Ministry, Mr. Joseph McAllister said, while the campaign to educate wildlife trappers and small farmers continues in various parts of the country, specific attention is being paid to the rural and remote locations where a significant number of small farmers and wildlife trappers operate.

He said they are targeted mainly because many people in the two groups are not sufficiently aware of the procedures involved in the preparation for Bird Flu.

GINA reported that the awareness drive is being undertaken by a number of technical experts who attended a series of related international training sessions in December last year.

Coordinator reports…
UDP works gain momentum in municipalities
COORDINATOR of the Urban Development Programme (UDP), Mr. Frederick Flatts has reported that the various ongoing projects under phase two of the civil works component are progressing smoothly.

He told the Government Information Agency (GINA) that, presently, this phase is moving towards its December 31, 2006 deadline and the executing agency, Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development is pushing to have it completed by that time.

Flatts said more than $4 billion is being spent on the government initiative to improve infrastructure and basic services within the towns of Anna Regina, Linden, Georgetown, Corriverton, Rose Hall and New Amsterdam.

Giving an update, he said repairs to Corriverton Market will cost $28.1M, with the aim of creating a better environment for vendors and their customers.

A further sum of $235.2M is being utilised to repair a number of streets in Corriverton and Rose Hall, Corentyne.

Works are also ongoing at New Amsterdam Market and Town Hall with a $38.6M expenditure while repairs have started on New Street and Angoy’s Avenue and another contract for similar work in the same town will be signed shortly.

Flatts said road repairs in Anna Regina costing $22.5M, which began late last year, have been completed and the $112M extension of Bush Lot Market, on Essequibo Coast, that started in February, is going ahead to accommodate 160 new stalls.

Meantime, designs, the contract for which was awarded to E and A Consultants Limited, are being prepared for repairing Mackenzie Market in Linden at a cost of $5.9M.

The UDP, being funded jointly by the Government of Guyana and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) since 1999, was scheduled for completion in 2005 but has been extended for another year, GINA said.

Recently, Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, Mr. Harripersaud Nokta announced that a request has been made to the IDB to fund another phase of the UDP.

He said the proposal, unlike the current phase, aims to develop the infrastructure and provide institutional strengthening for the 65 Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs).

Mining regulations study for providing level playing field
A STUDY of the current mining environmental regulations is under way with the intention of updating them as part of the policy to prepare for further investments in the sector.

Engineering consultant Mr. Charles Ceres, who is attached to the project under which the study is being done, told the Guyana Chronicle the objective is to “create a level playing field” for all mining investors.

The project entitled `Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of Mining in Guyana’ is being financed by the World Bank and is estimated to cost about US$190,000. A draft report of the study has an April 24, 2006 deadline.

Ceres said consultations with all stakeholders, including Amerindian communities, mining companies and environmental groups, among others, will be done to address their concerns with respect to sustainable and environmentally sound mining practices.

Consultations are scheduled for tomorrow in the Mahdia community, to be followed by similar exercises at Kamarang and Port Kaituma.

According to Ceres, the government is undertaking the SEA to support the draft Mining Regulations and the Mining (Amendment) Regulations 2005 for environmental management.

The Mining (Amendment) Regulations 2005 were developed by a multi-stakeholder committee and benefited from public consultations, Ceres said, adding that during the implementation and enforcement of these regulations, there is need to ensure that environmental and related social problems linked to mining are adequately addressed.

The SEA will be executed in two main phases, Ceres noted. Phase I will be the analytical aspect of SEA preparation, while phase II will seek to ensure that SEA findings and recommendations are duly considered by the government in the implementation and enforcement of the Mining (Amendment) Regulations 2005 and the finalising of the new Mining Regulations.

During Phase I, he said, priority problems will be identified, assessment and solutions recommended, appropriate legal language will be proposed and there will be a review of the draft SEA by the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

After GPOC problems…
Alternative pensions payment plan under consideration
ALTERNATIVE arrangements to effect payment are being considered by the government for pensioners presently inconvenienced by the industrial unrest at Guyana Post Office Corporation (GPOC).

The Government Information Agency (GINA) said the disclosure was made by Minister within the Ministry of Labour, Human Services and Social Security, Ms Bibi Shadick.

“Definitely we will have to put another system in place because we cannot have pensioners suffering unduly,” she declared.

Minister Shadick said the issue surrounding payment of old age pensions was raised at two recent Cabinet meetings and Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, who has the portfolio, was tasked to meet the GPOC Board Chairman, Bishop Juan Edghill and resolve it.

“Every day we have been getting complaints and reports from members of the public that when they turn up at the post offices in the city, they are told that there is no money. If this is happening in Georgetown, what is really taking place in the rural areas of the country?” Shadick pondered.

She said she was present when the Prime Minister met the officials twice and they promised that the matter would be addressed as soon as possible.

Shadick said she expressed her views, stating clearly that the lack of service at the post offices was causing great inconvenience to pensioners and enquired if those places can deliver or whether the ministry must undertake the task.

She was confident the ministry can do it, because every month it is paying pensioners on East Coast, East Bank and West Coast Demerara, most of whom have no one to assist them.

GINA said the government pays GPOC $1.5M monthly to provide the service to pensioners and public assistance recipients.

But Shadick said she thinks there is need for a complete revamping of the system, in view of reports that the standoff and work stoppage at GPOC will continue.

Postal employees are picketing outside the GPOC Robb Street, Georgetown headquarters daily, in protest against a letter of dismissal issued to one of their number who, they claim, was wrongfully fired and the demonstrators are calling for the removal of Edghill.

Retroactive to January 1, 2006, the government granted a 75 per cent increase to beneficiaries of Old Age Pension and Public Assistance and the distribution of the relevant books was completed last month, GINA said.

Construction starting soon on Diamond housing for Cubans
ALL procedures leading to it have been completed and construction will begin shortly on a housing complex, at Diamond, East Bank Demerara, to accommodate the Cuban personnel who would staff the diagnostic centre there.

The Government Information Agency (GINA) said Minister of Health, Dr Leslie Ramsammy made the announcement yesterday, pointing out that the design has been done and the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board awarded the contract for execution.

GINA said Cabinet gave its ‘no objection’ to the award at its statutory meeting yesterday and work should start within a matter of days.

Among the services to be offered at the centre are surgery, hematology, x-ray, intensive care and ultra-sound, GINA said.

A GINA release recalled that, during a visit to Cuba by President Bharrat Jagdeo earlier this year, he and Cuban President Fidel Castro agreed on a joint venture that would see four diagnostic and treatment centres established in Guyana, located at Diamond and Mahaicony in Region Four (Demerara/Mahaica); in Region Five (Mahaica/Berbice); Suddie on Essequibo Coast, in Region Two (Pomeroon/Supenaam) and Leonora, West Coast Demerara in Region Three (West Demerara/Essequibo Islands).

GINA said, under the agreement, the Guyana Government is to purchase equipment worth US$1.2M for furnishing the clinics and Cuba would provide 27 specialists and technicians for each of the four centres over a five-year period.

Throughout their tenure here, the Cubans will each be provided with a monthly stipend and accommodation.

$3.6 billion sea defences for Regions Two, Three
RECONSTRUCTION of several kilometres of sea defence has started at Capoey, Columbia and Taymouth Manor in Region Two (Pomeroon/Supenaam) and Tuschen, Hague and Cornelia Ida in Region Three (West Demerara/Essequibo Islands).

The Government Information Agency (GINA) said the $3.6 billion project is being funded under the eighth European Development Fund (EDF) scheme, through which Guyana secured 20 million euros to also improve infrastructure management.

EU Project Manager here, Mr. Mewburn Amsterdam said about 60 metres have already been built in Region Two and about 50 metres in Region Three.

He told GINA the contract was jointly awarded last August to local company, B.K. International and Italian firm, Gelfi Impressor.

Amsterdam said soil testing equipment has been procured by one of the contracting firms and it will, subsequently, be handed over to the Government of Guyana for future usage.

Explaining the importance of the acquisition, he said several similar projects failed in the past because of problems with the soil texture.

Meanwhile, another contract has been signed between the Government of Guyana and the EU for the commencement of feasibility studies on the ninth EDF undertaking that would see the allocation of 20 million more euros, GINA said.

That will be done by the Ukranian firm, Mott McDonald, in association with Caribbean Engineering Management Consultancy Organisation (CEMCO), a local company.

GINA said the ninth EDF project entails more sea defence construction, maintenance of existing structures and a shore zone management programme.

Security to be beefed up for Bartica Regatta

WELL-PREPARED: from left, Pageant Coordinator Paul Burnett; 2005 Miss Bartica Regatta Queen, Ms Malinda De Santos; Regional Chairman Gordon Bradford and Committee Secretary, Elizabeth Moonsammy at the Bartica Regatta press conference yesterday. (Winston Oudkerk photo)

ORGANISERS of this year’s Bartica Regatta yesterday said they are working with the Police and the Transport and Harbours Department (T&HD) to tighten security for the Easter weekend events.

Beefing up security has become more crucial following the daring robbery late last month by gunmen of passengers in a speedboat heading to Bartica from the Parika stelling.

Large crowds flock to Bartica each year for the packed programme and members of the Bartica Regatta Committee 2006 yesterday, at a press conference at the Waterchris Hotel in Georgetown, said security is of primary importance.

Mr. Gordon Bradford, Chairman of Region Seven (Cuyuni/Mazaruni) and of the Bartica Regatta Committee 2006, told reporters he has met the Police and the T&HD of the region to discuss long-term measures that can be in place for security purposes for the regatta.

Boats plying the Bartica to Parika route along the Essequibo River are the main means of transport for the regatta and security concerns were raised after the terrifying ordeal last month when gunmen posing as passengers robbed 15 persons in a boat and marooned them on an uninhabited island in the vicinity of Baboon Hole.

Bradford said the security measures expected to be implemented include:

** Asking persons to provide a manifest before entering the boats

** Telephones and radios will be installed in the boats and connected to the Bartica and Parika ports

** Screening passengers for weapons and checking for firearms with and without licence at the ports

** Regular patrols in the river during the regatta events

** Police to be in surrounding areas at the events in case of emergency

The Bartica Regatta Committee said it is well prepared and optimistic about the support from the public for the revelry and main events on April 15-17.

Bradford reported that some activities are under way while the main events will begin on April 15.

The ongoing activities on the programme include a dominoes tournament - Kings, Queens and Teams – at Mickey’s Hangout Grill Edge and Gardens Nite Club (March 25-April 9); men and women’s team cricket at Bartica Community Centre (March 25-April 9) and football – invitational for veteran teams (March 25–April 17).

Upcoming events include a cocktail and sashing ceremony at the Gardens/Regatta Pavilion on April 9; a motorcade around Bartica and the Ms Regatta Pageant Street Jam at Bartica Community Centre and Stelling Square on April 15; the river swim and power boat races at Kaow Island to Bartica Golden Beach Circuit on April 16; triathlon football finals at Kaow Island and around the Bartica Community Centre Ground and the presentation ceremony on April 22.

Ms Regatta Pageant Coordinator, Mr. Paul Burnett said this will be the 37th year for this event and noted that there has been great improvement and development in the organisation and coordination process.

He said all 12 delegates will receive prizes for their participation, even though they may not place in the pageant.

Prizes include wrist watches, sunshades and brooches while the Queen of the pageant will receive regional and domestic trips, cash incentives, a scooter, a beauty makeover, gym membership for one year and a trophy, Burnett said.

The coordinator added that the committee hopes to award next year’s Queen with a car.

Bradford appealed to members of the business community and owners of boats to cooperate and avoid exploiting customers during the holiday weekend and give visitors the best treatment and hospitality during their stay in Bartica.

He and Secretary of the committee, Ms Elizabeth Moonsammy expressed, on behalf of the committee, sincere gratitude and appreciation to the companies and overseas-based friends for their contribution, sponsorship and continuous support over the past years.

The committee also extended thanks to Banks DIH Limited; Minister of Tourism, Mr. Manzoor Nadir; PNCR Leader, Mr. Robert Corbin; former Youth, Culture and Sport Minister, Ms Gail Teixeira; ACME Civil Engineering Company; H. Nauth and Sons and Vegas Taxi Service. (KENWAH CHOQUANYI)