As the month-long Indigenous Heritage celebration culminated, hundreds of patrons from all walks of life were yesterday treated to the sights, tastes and sounds of the rich Indigenous culture at St Cuthbert’s Mission in the Mahaica river.According to the Department of Public Information, activities commenced at theMinister within the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Valerie Garrido-Lowevillage benab with poems, dances, songs and renditions from various cultural groups within the only Indigenous settlement in Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica); and all of those activities depicted the way of life of Guyana’s first peoples. There were also live demonstrations of the process of making cassava bread.In brief remarks made at the opening ceremony, Minister within the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Valerie Garrido-Lowe, reflected on what ‘heritage’ means to the people of Guyana.The Minister said that while the Indigenous peoples use the month to showcaseA cultural group performing a dancetheir culture, “it is more than that; it is a month of reflection and celebration of how far we have come as a people.”Minister Garrido-Lowe reminded that the entire process had commenced with the late Stephen Campbell, Guyana’s first Indigenous parliamentarian, who had ledthe fight for land rightsCassava bread-makingfor the first peoples.“We have much to celebrate. We have come through a lot through the centuries, and we have emerged strong,” she declared.She commended all those in the village who have been preserving their Indigenous identity through teaching of the Arawak language.Minister of Social Cohesion, Dr. George Norton, called on the entire community to become a ‘language champion,’ even as the community continues to lead the way in preserving the Arawak language.“I recognise that time has had its effects on the various aspects of the Indigenous culture of this country, and particularly that of our language. I want to call all of you to action, to become a language champion similar to that of St. Cuthbert’s Mission;Patrons of the St. Cuthbert’s Mission Heritage celebrationsfor we know a connection to our language and identity is not just about an indigenous issue, it is a human issue.”Toshao Beverley Clenkian highlighted some of the achievements of the village over the past years. She noted that the village has produced many trained teachers, doctors, nurses and Medexes, and successful sportsmen and women.Clenkian said the village is proud of these achievements, and she urged the residents to use the event to recognise those persons who would have made the village proud.
The two former ranks of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) who are accused of raping an Essequibo Coast, Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam) woman in the presence of her boyfriend last weekend at the Anna Regina Community Centre Ground, were granted bail when they appeared at the Suddie Magistrate’s Court.Rawlston Reid, 22, of Dutch Four Housing Scheme, East Coast Demerara; and Isaiah Rawlins, 21, of Wisroc, Linden, were granted bail in the sum of $300,000 each by Magistrate Esther Sam.The men were also accused of robbing the rape victim’s boyfriend on the day in question.Upon granting the men bail, the Magistrate ordered them to report to the Anna Regina Police Station on a daily basis. The men were also ordered to stay more than 200 feet away from the victims.Guyana Times understands that the rape victim is expected to come to Georgetown to get counselling today.It was reported that the female victim and her boyfriend were at the Anna Regina Community Centre Ground, which is close to the GDF base, for an event and at about 23:30h, as they were enjoying an evening together, the two ranks attacked them.The soldiers reportedly dealt the young man several blows about his body, took away his money and gold chain, and demanded that his girlfriend have sex with them or else they would rape him.At first, this demand was shut down, but the two ranks severely beat the young man. They then allegedly took turns raping the woman as she wept bitterly and asked them to stop.The young man had no choice but to watch his girlfriend being sexually assaulted. After the ordeal, the young couple reported the matter to the Police station. At the Police station, the couple was told that there were no ranks available to search the area.Family members then took it upon themselves to look for the two perpetrators. Upon seeing the angry mob of residents, the two men escaped. The couple was taken to hospital where the young lady was admitted. The Police subsequently took statements from the two traumatised young people and an investigation was launched.An identification parade was done on Monday afternoon at the Suddie Police Station and the two perpetrators were positively identified by the victims. Guyana Times was told that while the ID parade was in progress, colleagues of the implicated ranks were heard shouting derogatory remarks towards the victims.The young male victim is an acquaintance of both ranks.
One of the 13 prisoners who escaped from the Lusignan Penitentiary during 2017 jailbreak was placed back into the system on Monday after he was charged with robbery under arms.Winston Long, 22, appeared before Magistrate Sherdel Isaacs-Marcus and denied that on February 2, 2019, at High Street, Georgetown, while in the company of others, he robbed Sherlock Cummings of $3000; a cell phone valued $6000 along with a $10,000 gold chain while using personal violence at the said time or immediately after.According to the prosecution’s case, at about 01:30h on February 2, the Virtual Complainant was proceeding along High Street, Georgetown, when he was approached by Long. The prosecution is contending that Long held the victim at weapon point and robbed him of his valuables. Cummings was also beaten during the process of the robbery.However, the victim was able to grasp the attention of a nearby police patrol that was in the vicinity. Reports are the police were able to arrest Long a short distance away with the items in his possession.Bail for Long was opposed by the prosecutor on the grounds that he may be a flight risk and that he also has matters of a similar nature pending before the said court. The prosecution’s submissions were upheld and Long was remanded to prison.Long was among other inmates who escaped from the Lusignan Prison by digging a hole under the fence during July 2017. However, after being recaptured, he pleaded guilty to the offence and was sentenced to one year’s imprisonment. He was released from prison last year.
Ateenager, who is responsible for stabbing a taxi driver to death in Berbice during 2016, was on Wednesday given a three-year jail sentence.Justice Brassington Reynolds ordered that he be held in a juvenile facility until his 20th birthday, which will be January 5, 2022.The 17-year-old pleaded guilty to the lesser count of manslaughter and probation was ordered before he was sentenced on Wednesday.On June 5, 2016 the teenager stabbed taxi driver, Deonarine Laljit, called “Baba”, of Number 72 Village, East Berbice, Corentyne.Dead: Deonarine LaljitThe prosecution contended that at about midday, the teenager entered Laljit’s car in the vicinity of the Number 69 Village, Corentyne and was r heading to Baul Street, Corriverton. Reports are that the teen waited until he was alone in the car with the driver, after which he stabbed the Laljit in his neck.Residents of Line Path, had stated, that they saw Laljit’s car stopped at Baul Street, Line Path ‘E’, Corriverton at about 12:30h. However, they subsequently saw a teen rushing out of the car after which they saw the driver exiting said car with blood gushing from his throat.According to probation report presented by Probation and Welfare officer Vooneshewarie Gopaul, the taxi driver was in the habit of telling the teenager taunting things about his elder sister. On one occasion the driver reportedly told the teen he was “pretty” and if he was a girl he would have had a relationship with him.According to the probation report, on the day in question, he was a passenger in the car and as they were at Linepath Laljit and the teen were reportedly involved in a heated argument. After some minutes, the irate teenager reportedly whipped out a knife and stabbed Laljit to his left side neck and face.At the time he was 15.Justice Reynolds said it was a “crazy task for the court in such circumstances in enforcing the law in a way that can see our society comfortable with our daily lives and balancing it with submission s which were earlier made by Attorney at law Chandra Sohan on behalf of the teenager.”Sohan had submitted that the teenager was remorseful and was provoked. He also mentioned his tender age at the time of the crime and noted that the teenager had engaged himself in developmental programs while being incrassated.In imposing the sentence, the judge said that there were certain conditions to be attached. The judge said that upon his release the teen who would by then turn 20, must visit the probation officer within 72-hours. He was also ordered to continue visits to the probation officer as recommended by the probation officer and that officer must approve his place of work. If he is to move to another location it first must be approved by the probation officer.
Lead Consultant of Vivid Economics, Charlie DixonGeorgetown, the capital city of Guyana, is plagued by many issues including crime and even natural disasters such as flooding and the lead consultant from the European firm Vivid Economics, Charlie Dixon, said the challenges are some of the greatest he has seen in recent times.In a recent interview with this publication, Dixon said that he thinks that “the challenges that Georgetown faces are some of the largest that I’ve seen in the types of cities and the types of areas that we’ve worked in”.Dixon, who has been in Guyana for quite some time putting together a report on Climate Resilience Support for Adequate Housing and Urban Accessibility for the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) explained that in addition to the aforementioned issues, the capital city is likely to undergo tremendous pressure in the near future, as the population is likely to expand.He said that statistics collected by himself found that by 2040, Georgetown’s population is likely to grow from 130,000 to 200,000.The spike in the population, he said, could be linked to the fact that the oil and gas sector is preparing to take off soon, which will see larger amounts of persons, both locals and others, seeking employment in the city or offshore.“In Georgetown, I think it’s a really interesting opportunity because there is gonna be such phenomenal urban growth in Georgetown in the future and so this isn’t just because Guyana is already developing at a fast pace, but the increase of oil is gonna put real dramatic pressures on the population and so that’s including impact in population growth, its including inward migrants who come to work in the oil and gas industry or diaspora that is attracted to move back and then finally there is gonna be an increase in urbanisation, so people moving from the interior to Georgetown as well,” Dixon explained.Based on the report, the consultant noted that a number of key measures have been recommended which can be implemented by various responsible agencies, including the Office of Climate Change and even the Public Infrastructure Ministry, to ensure the preservation of the city.He said, “There are a set of key actions that have been looked into, sized and modelled so you can tell not only how many emissions they will help you to reduce but also how much they’re likely to cost, both in terms of upfront investments and savings over throughout time”.While presenting the findings from his study, the consultant recommended on Tuesday that current sea defence structures should be rehabilitated while the drainage system in and around the city needs to be addressed. He also told the Central Housing and Planning Authority that they may need to direct commercial and residential development away from high-risk areas in Georgetown while the onus may be upon the Government to restore and expand mangrove conservation and sediment control structures.The almost six-month long study was funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
The Christmas season at its peak has resulted in many traffic congestions along the West Demerara Public Road, with lines extending hundreds of metres.On Thursday, several motorists and taxi operators called for better traffic management, especially at the Demerara Harbour Bridge (DHB) and Vreed-en-Hoop junction in the early hours of the day.The line extending beyond Plantain Walk to reach the junctionOne driver told Guyana Times that he spent 35 minutes from Goed Fortuin to the DHB junction, which, in normal circumstances, would have taken just over 10 minutes.This is due to motorists boycotting the lines to use the sidewalk, coupled with an increase in holiday shoppers crowding the streets. However, he believes the situation can be less stressful with intervention from the Guyana Police Force.Joseph Montgomery explained, “Everybody using the same line to come to the junction. Some choose to use the parapet and drive like they crazy until they reach the front while other people still waiting at the back. How is that fair? Tell me”.According to him, those boycotting the legal barrier to use the “fast way” are causing danger to the lives of other road users. It was indicated that on some occasions, Police Officers are stationed to ensure uniformed traffic flow. However, in many scenarios, the junction is left unsupervised, allowing drivers to break the law.Meanwhile, this publication spoke to a taxi driver who insisted that he is losing money from the increased time for one drop.“I wasting more time and gas. Sometimes you waiting in the line with two people. That’s just $200 for one spin for a whole half an hour. It ain’t make sense. Most people staying home cause we ain’t making anything much,” he insisted.On Tuesday, Police Commissioner Leslie James addressed traffic and carnage on the roadways, stating that motorists must develop better attitudes. He said that road users need to change their attitude for there to be a significant reduction in minor, serious and fatal accidents.“We would like to see a change in the attitude of motorists and the way in which they use our roads and they would have heard statements made by the Traffic Chief in that regard, speaking directly to persons who are using the road, who decide on occasion the way in which they would drive or the way in which they would use the road resulting in serious fatalities…It’s almost as if they’re flouting the law,” he cautioned.Since last Sunday, the Force employed a new operation to decreased these numbers and make the roads safer, especially during the holiday season. James said more human resources will be put aside for this until there is a positive change.“We are out there in numbers…We sat and strategized after which we commenced an operation referred to as ‘Operation Safe Roads’…We’ve been doing what we have to do. We’ll continue to do what we have to do. We have increased numbers now following this operation that commenced on Sunday and this will continue until we see a change in the attitude of those using the road,” the Top Cop had stressed.
– botched robbery angered gunmenBy Kizzy ColemanPandemonium broke out at Good Hope, East Bank Essequibo (EBE) late Sunday evening, when an elderly couple were horrendously burnt alive by bandits who set their house alight after a botched robbery.Dead are Bibi Munir, 70, and Mohammed Munir, 77, of Lot 16 Good Hope, who were both prominent rice farmers in Region Three.According to reports, at around 23:15h on Sunday, several armed bandits invaded the couple’s premises but they managed to secure themselves in one of the bedrooms.The ravaging blaze on Sunday nightWhat is left of the rice farmers’ houseAfter not being able to gain access to the couple, the angered bandits then doused the house with gasoline and set it alight.Speaking with this publication an eyewitness said she heard what sounded like gunshots and got out of bed to investigate.“I was in my bed when I heard gun shots. I got up and looked outside and I saw the fire and ran outside. When I got outside I was shocked to see that no one was on the road even though there was a huge fire but I was not aware that people were scared because they heard Uncle Munir screaming thief! thief!”According the eyewitnesses, the couple was heard screaming for persons to break a door of the heavily grilled house so that they could escape the fire. They were seen through a window in the room in which they were trapped.“A bus driver started to honk his bus horn and then people started to come out to lend assistance but by then the house was almost covered in flames, so no one could really do anything. Uncle Munir was at the window begging for people to use chains to pull out the grilled window so that he and his wife could come out but the heat was too much,” the woman explained.She added that the now dead man was also giving instructions for neighbours to drive his two tractors out of the yard to prevent them from exploding to which a neighbour complied.Meanwhile, a businessman known as ‘Dumb boy’ told this publication that after he heard the screams, he went to investigate and it was then that he recognised men armed with guns manoeuvring in the couple’s house.He added that in an attempt to alert neighbours, he got out his licenced gun and discharged several rounds in the air.“I saw them in the house and I just went and got my gun and I fired a few shots in the air to alert people of what was happening.”This publication was told that Jamila Munir had telephoned a businessman in the area, Shiraz Ally, as her house was going up in flames providing him with details as to what was transpiring and pleading with him for help from the deadly blaze.It is believed the gunmen used the street behind the couple’s house to gain entry to their yard and eventually their house since persons in the area stated that they did not see anyone enter from the front (the public road) entrance.According to reports, on Saturday night a tinted silver grey Toyota Allion car was “lurking” in the area and it appeared “suspicious”.Reports stated that the same car was spotted again hours before the fire occurred.When Guyana Times visited the scene Monday morning, the charred remains of the couple were being removed by undertakers as relatives wailed in agony.Regional Executive Officer Denis Jaikaran was on scene and expressed sadness at the ‘tragedy’.The police in a statement Monday said they are investigating the circumstances surrounding the deadly fire.A team of investigators had already visited the scene and took statements from neighbours.The post mortems have confirmed the couple died as a result of smoke inhalation.The elderly couple leaves to mourn at least four children, siblings and other family.
…PPP walks out in condemnationSpeaker of the National Assembly, Dr Barton Scotland in the wee hours of Saturday morning evicted former Attorney General, Anil Nandlall, from the Chambers of the House, bringing an end to the Opposition participation in a rancorous, marathon debate related to the President’s speech to Parliament in October last.Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Barton ScotlandNandlall was at the time making his presentation on the debate which had begun the previous day.He was routinely interrupted throughout his presentation as government ministers challenged his assertions on numerous occasions.It was on one such occasion, as Nandlall was making reference to a US$5.7 million settlement entered into between Government and BK International in relation to the Haags Bosch Landfill.Nandlall suggested that Minister of Communities Ronald Bulkan had in fact made that disclosure in the press.Former Attorney General, Anil NandlallHaving already had to withdraw his statements to the debate on several occasions, Nandlall was this time challenged by Minister Bulkan who denied making the assertion.At this point Nandlall sought to vociferously defend his stance, saying that Minister Bulkan has never denied making statements to the press to the effect that Government had made the payout to BK International on the basis of a threatening letter.The Speaker at this point demanded that Nandlall substantiate his claims by providing the source of his information.Nandlall sought to counter by saying he did not have the newspapers he referred to on hand, but granted an hour’s leave, he would be able to produce it.The former Attorney General lamented that the opposition had not prepared to debate a motion on the President’s speech since they had in fact prepared for separate motions.His request was however not granted and Nandlall was again asked to withdraw his accusation against the Minister to which he defiantly refused.Dr Scotland at this point informed the former Attorney General that should be not comply, then he would not be able to continue making his presentation to the debate.Nandlall instead opted to withdraw from the debate at which point Dr Scotland ordered him out of the Chambers – a move that angered his colleague PPP/C members of parliament all of whom opted to leave the Chambers in solidarity.Nandlall has since taken to social media decrying the actions of Dr Scotland saying, “The Speaker committed a travesty…There is not even an effort to conceal the bias anymore.”Nandlall has since in a public missive, insisted that he was muzzled by Dr Scotland.According to Nandlall: “We were discussing the President’s address to the Parliament delivered on the 13th October, 2016…My presentation was robust and heavily critical of the President’s speech.”Nandlall contends that his presentation pointed to the length and “how skewed and vacuous the speech was by citing examples and illustrating its deficiencies…I further identified the various constitutional interferences and violations of which the Executive was guilty.” According to Nandlall, “As usual, not being able to endure the criticisms and like true authoritarians, the Ministers started to object to every reference I made.” Among other speakers to the debate which finally came to a close at 01:00h on Saturday – having begun shortly after 14:30h the previous day – were Irfaan Ally, Ganga Persaud and ministers Amna Ally, Raphael Trotman and Basil Williams.
A tip-off from a civilian led the Guyana Police Force (GPF) to the discovery of a firearm and matching ammunition in Houston, Greater Georgetown.The gun and ammunition which were recoveredAccording to information provided by Police Public Relations Officer, Jairam Ramlakhan, the find was made some time around 07:05h on Friday at Houston Public Road.It was reported that acting on information from a concerned citizen, the Police went to a location on the Houston Public Road, where they found a .32 pistol along with three matching rounds.The weapon was taken into Police possession and is expected to undergo ballistics testing to ascertain if it was used in the commission of any crimes. Meanwhile, investigations are ongoing.
… sale to begin with Skeldon Sugar Factory – Finance MinisterGovernment has created a Special Purpose Unit to be housed at the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) to lead the sell-off ofSkeldon Sugar Factoryassets belonging to the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo).That information was disclosed during consideration of the first Financial Paper for 2017 requesting a Supplementary for the $250 billion Budget for 2017.Included in the more than $6.3billion request was a sum of $130 million earmarked as a subsidy for contribution to local organisations.According to the explanatory remarks accompanying the request, the money is “to provide for the establishment of a Special Purpose Unit to manage the reform of the sugar industry.”According to the Financial Paper, the amount includes provision for employment costs, utilities, professional and legal fees, advertisements, operating supplies furniture and equipment.”The information was disclosed by Finance Minister Winston Jordan, who was at the time responding to queries raised by Members of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) in Parliament.Minister Jordan, in seeking to apprise the House, indicated that Government was unclear as to what it is looking to rake in from the sale of the GuySuCo assets since they still need to be properly evaluated.He explained that the purpose of the Special Purpose Unit under the rubric of NICIL will be for the divestment and privatisation of certain parts of GuySuCo.According to the Minister, monies have been earmarked – some $60 million to hire an accounting firm in order to lead the divestment process, including updated valuations of the assets.Responding to PPP/C Member of Parliament and Sugar Unionist, Komal Chand, Minister Jordan insisted that GuySuCo will be playing a major role in the divestment process since there are a number of items still to be done by the Sugar Corporation.“This is a Special Purpose Unit designed purely for what I indicated… the focus of this Unit is privatsiation and divestment of identified assets one of which is Skeldon Estate, that is their top priority.”The Finance Minister told the House that other identified properties will soon be transferred to the Special Purpose Unit for divestment by that outfit.GuySuCo, he said, will identify the lands or assets to be divested after which it will be transferred to the Special Purpose Unit.“In other words, we pulling out this whole exercise from GuySuCo so GuySuCo can continue with its operations,” according the Minister Jordan.According to the Finance Minister, some $30 million has been set aside for the payment of salaries for the Unit which he expected to be headed by a Director and deputy along with support staff.Trade Unionist and PPP/C MP, Gillian Burton-Persaud, in response to her queries, was told that none of the money allocated for the Unit will be used for the retraining of displaced sugar workers as a result of the divestment moves by the Administration.Former Junior Finance Minister, Bishop Juan Edghill questioned why Government would want to transfer money to NICIL, itself not a budget agency that has over the years generated billions in revenue.Minister Jordan told the House, that the money is not being transferred to NICIL per say but rather for the Unit.He told the House that NICIL simply did not have the money to fund the operation since any money it holds is being turned over to the Consolidated Fund.The Minister did point out that the outfit will expand its scope as a unit within NICIL when it has completed its GuySuCo related transactions.Chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee, Irfaan Ali, in his contribution to the Committee of Supply scrutinising the expenditure sought to query whether there was any social or economic impact assessments undertaken before any such decisions was taken.Jordan was further queried on what will obtain with the proceeds Government will raise by selling off GuySuCo assets.The Finance Minister insisted that all transactions will be above board and in fact will be subjected to a public tendering process. The Minister reminded that Government is unable at this time to speak specifically to the level of revenues to be raised since the valuations are yet to be completed.He assured however that the proceeds emanating from the sale of GuySuCo’s assets will be pumped back into the industry.According to the Finance Minister, the revenues emanating from the sale of these assets will go to GuySuCo towards defraying its debts, financing the costs of divestments as well as to be used in the operations of the entity.