Dear Editor,I have noted with distaste the application for oil blocks by the African Business Roundtable (ABR). The ABR is also known as the African Business Chamber of Commerce (ABCC), a group founded by the African Cultural and Development Association (ACDA) in 2016 “to create business opportunities for people of African descent, facilitate access to markets, openings to financing and stimulate opportunities for self-development and the transformation of villages into viable economic centres” Stabroek News (19.11.2016). Interestingly, the persons listed as beneficial owners of ABR are Eric Phillips, Charles Ceres, Violet Smith, and Osafo George. It would seem this is a very small table and aimed at ‘opportunities for self-development’ of a few politically favoured elitists.The policy of the Granger Administration to fund and facilitate the creation of organisations for the advancement of ‘Afro-Guyanese’ to the exclusion of other races was ill-conceived and the result has been the funnelling of hundreds of millions in State funds to a select few to the exclusion of people of any descent, Afro or otherwise. There are no barriers to the advancement of persons of any ethnicity in Guyana, the two largest business organisations – Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and the Berbice Chamber – do not have ethnic requirements, there was no obvious gap filled by the ABR/ABCC. Similarly, the other Granger cash cow International Decade for People of African Descent-Guyana has done nothing but provide events where persons were offered access to Government services such as house lot application and birth certificate registration, services which are available five days a week (for free) at Government offices.Eric Phillips is President of African Cultural and Development Association (ACDA), in this capacity he is well equipped to advance the cause of people of African descent. It is sad to see he has instead used his position and influence to acquire large tracts of land and oil blocks.Head of the Project Management Office of the Ministry of the Presidency, Marlon Bristol would have us believe that land allocation is done in a manner of “pin the tail on the donkey” as he said that he never had any insider information and it is for the GL&SC to say why they gave him lands suitable for a deep water harbour. Marlon Bristol offers no details on the stated purpose of his application and his silence speaks volumes.Guyana does not need ethnocentricity at this point in our history, we need selfless leaders who are willing to serve the country for the betterment of all Guyanese; Leaders who understand Guyana is a multi-racial state. Guyanese are struggling to throw off a socialist past and embrace a capitalist future. Empowerment begins with education; with investing capital in each other’s plans, projects and businesses. Our past is a story of survival and hustle, the future must bring a change to order and adherence to the rule of law. Eric Phillips and his cohorts’ attempt to secure our patrimony via patronage are remnant acts of the old Guyana hustle, we must condemn them to our opaque past and move to a transparent future; anything less is unacceptable.Respectfully,Robin Singh
Breaches in the sea defences of Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) may have to wait to receive attention since the Government will place emphasis on regions which are more vulnerable.Region Six Vice Chairman Dennis DeRoopOne of the breaches in BerbiceThis is according to Region Six Vice Chairman Dennis DeRoop while addressing the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) on the issue.DeRoop, who is a member of the Sea Defence Board, explained that like other Regions, Region Six was under threat, but the Government would prioritise the needs of the Regions based on the dangers of the breaches.“Money is not issued based on regional needs, but rather the country’s situation. Hence, other Regions may take precedence over Region Six sea defence repair work. So, some of the breaches we have may not be fixed right now,” DeRoop said as he made mention of the expected October spring tide.“Region Six has two threatening areas which could be like what occurred at Mahaica.” One area, he said, stretches from Wellington Park to Brighton on the Corentyne and the other from Number 51 Village to Number 62 Village, also on the Corentyne.Those are the two … [tricky] areas; there is no defence presently. I made recommendations at the level of the Board and the contract was started last Wednesday at Wellington Park to seal about 300 meters, but the opening is much wider than that. I was told that a project will be done in phases,” DeRoop explained.He posited that the areas would be continuously monitored while adding that the Board recommended that the breaches at Number 51 and Number 62, be attended to next year. Boulders will be placed to retain the line of the sea defence.“If you do not retain the line, then it could become like the Mahaica situation. It was expected with the hurricane season in the Atlantic that the breach and Danzig at Mahaica would give away,” the Vice Chairman said.In Corriverton, there was a project being funded by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) to reinforce the sea defence from Scottsburg to Line Path. According to the Regional Vice Chairman, the lifespan of the sea wall there has already expired.“That is why that area was recommended under the CDB loan. The contract currently on is for the rehabilitation of that area. Another CDB project should be executed on the East Bank of Berbice. However, the design that the consultant submitted has not been accepted by the CDB.”That project, according to DeRoop, has been put on hold. Upon completion, this project was expected to rectify the outfall channels along the East Bank of Berbice.At Fyrish, there is a breach which needs urgent attention, DeRoop told the RDC. “There is no defence presently there,” he said.Referring to the recent spring tides as the highest-ever seen in Region Six, the Sea Defence Board will be monitoring the coastline.In addition, the Vice Chairman noted that in Orealla there was sand erosion. “Those areas there are breaking away, slipping into the River. That area will also be monitored as well as overtopping of the Canje River, which has affected both the East and West Canje.In Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice), where the sea defence gave way at Dantiz last week causing widespread flooding and the destruction of farmland and livestock, the Vice Chairman said the Board has acknowledged that work has to be done in two threatened areas.He explained that at Mahaica, there were four to five kilometres of sea defence to be repaired, but it could not all be done now.“That will be a lot of money. It will take the entire budget of the Agriculture Ministry to fix.” Nevertheless, it is not the only danger-prone area as similar threats are present in Region Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara) and Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam), DeRoop added.