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Leguan needs sound development strategy June 8, 2011

Filed under: Leguan — Leguanite @ 8:43 pm
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I grew up in Leguan and things always seem to be the same. There has never been any direct effort to develop the Island above it’s natural level – planting rice and ground provisions. The only jobs young people can hope for  includes public works, police, post office work, teacher, the hospital, steamer stelling or in the Commissioner’s office. Those jobs are filled by few. Where would the majority of brilliant young people find jobs? They have to leave the Island. Which is sad. Only those who want to follow in the footsteps of their parents – working the land remain there.

The new government must give Leguan people a strategy for development. That island has a lot of potential. It can provide a lot of tourism dollars if properly handled.  A lot of what is voiced by these people is nothing new. We want change for Leguan, a chance for Leguanites to remain on the Island and live a decent live. So let’s get it on.

When I see all the flooding and disaster taking place in North America elsewhere I think about my Island, Leguan and wonder if the sea-walls there would be enough to stem the tide. The tides around the world appears to be getting higher and higher. I hope someone is looking after these .  If flood happens there a lot of people will die, will drown.

Leguan does not need any airstrip. It needs better and more frequent steamers. I for one does not like travelling in speed boat. I prefer the big steamer and there are a lot of people like me, so let’s get some better transportation from the Island to the mainland. Is there a way to bridge that river? That would be something. It would be a dream come true.

Residents of Leguan who spoke to Stabroek News last week believe that monies allocated by the government for the construction of an airfield should be spent on other important needs such as the sea defence, roads and the creation of jobs since unemployment is widespread on the island. In this year’s budget, $184M was allocated for the construction of airstrips on the Essequibo River islands of Leguan and Wakenaam. In last year’s budget, $108M was also set aside for this venture in addition to the rehabilitation of the airfield at Baramita in Region 1. No work has been undertaken since.

According to the islanders, Leguan is under-developed and most families are poor. They said an airstrip would not be beneficial  since many days, persons cannot muster the $500 as speed boat fare to cross over to Parika. According to Winston Lake, a resident of the village of La Bagatelle, an airstrip would require “a flight schedule, which would further require people with money”. He said most families on the island are engaged in farming but the rice farmers are facing difficult times since they are not paid much for their paddy and as a result they are now contemplating other options to sustain themselves. “It’s a logical thing, they should not build it,” Lake said, regarding the airstrip. Another resident, who asked to remain anonymous, said that a petition is currently being drawn up and it would soon be presented to the authorities, objecting to the airfield proposal.

 

 

orking in the rice fields, some have as many as 7 CXC subjects and instead of constructing an airstrip the authorities should find ways to attract investors to the island so that persons can gain employment. Some residents said they were told that the airfield would be constructed at the northern section of the island. That area is accessible by a road known as ‘Long Road’, one of the three main roads located on the island.

 

Potholes on the Blenheim Public road at Leguan.

While at Leguan, it was noted  that two of the main roads are filled with potholes, these being Long Road and the main road which leads to the eastern section of the island. The villages of Enterprise and Blenheim are located along this road. The other road which passes through the villages of La Bagatelle, Belfield and Maryville is located on the western side of the island. The three roads culminate at the ferry stelling. Motorists living along the eastern main road said that the road is in dire need of repairs. According to a car owner, he rarely uses his vehicle since the potholes on the road have caused damage to his car.

 

A resident of La Bagatelle, Leguan points to a sand bag on the sea dam which has been damaged as a result of high tides. He said water flows freely over the section of the dam seen at the left of the photograph.

Some residents also voiced concerns over the need for a better sea defence on the island. Shir Ally, a pensioner and rice farmer who has been living on the island all his life said that the island’s sea defence system needs overhauling. He said that some of the main drainage canals which drain water off of the island have been filled with vegetation for sometime now. Stabroek News observed a few canals located in the villages of La Bagatelle and Enterprise filled with vegetation. According to Ally, the government needs to do more infrastructural work to make the residents more comfortable. He said during high tides water has been flooding sections of the island. A speed boat operator, who asked to remain anonymous, said that persons often pray during high tides for protection from the waters surrounding the island. Asked for his opinion on the construction of the airfield, the man said that the government needs to get its priorities in order. He said if one is to ask residents on the island for their opinion regarding the airstrip, they would give an answer similar to his. The La Bagatelle resident took this reporter through his backyard which was flooded in some parts. The man said his backyard has been under water for years and the water only recedes during sunshine. At the sea dam behind his house, the sand bags placed there have been damaged as a result of the high tides. He said the sand bags were used ‘to patch’ the sea dam. He also informed that BK International had done some sea defence work at other sections of the island “which was more concrete”. He, along with his friends, said that the construction firm should be solely designated to upkeep the island’s sea defence. A few persons said that the village of Dauntless, located on the northern section of Leguan feels the brunt of the high tides. This newspaper also observed huge cracks in the sea wall located near the ferry stelling. A speed boat operator related that the fissures are sometimes temporarily plastered with cement. Cracks were also noticeable on the sea wall farther east of the ferry stelling.

Leguan is supplied with electricity from Monday to Thursday, between 4 pm and 8 am the following day and on a 24-hour basis thereafter. A group of housewives said that the island is in need of a continuous supply of electricity since there is nothing much to do during the day. They said most persons listen to the radio during the day, especially when cricket commentary is being broadcast but with the current electricity supply, they said “we only get to see the last 10 overs”.

There are approximately 5,000 persons living at Leguan and according to a shopkeeper, the island usually comes to life with the arrival of the ferry. In addition to the Transport and Harbours Department ferry, speed boat operators also ply their trade between the island and the Parika ferry stelling. They however, wait for hours at both ports, since few persons travel to and from the island while those who do, prefer to use the ferry. Most Leguan residents live at the southern section of the island in proximity to the ferry stelling. From this section of the island  Parika and other East Bank Essequibo villages nearby are clearly visible. The area situated in the vicinity of the Leguan Police Station and the Regional Democratic Office is considered the island’s ‘bright spot’.

The construction of airstrips at Leguan and Wakenaam has been debated in various mediums and residents at Wakenaam expressed similar views to Stabroek News two weeks ago about the need for other priorities.

Exactly what sort of consultation by the government with the islanders resulted in the decision to build the airstrips is unclear. It is also uncertain if the airstrips form part of a larger plan to generate investment and create jobs in the communities.

  • I was born in Leguan, but have not been back there for nearly thirty years. It is sad to read about the state of the island. However I am happy to see there other Leguaners who have been able to leave the island and still remain concern about its development.I don’t think the airport is bad investment by the government. However I do agree that there are a lot of other pressing concerns that needs urgent attention. For instance the sea defense needs to quickly addressed or more and more valuable land would be loss to the raging ocean.

    The islanders should consider what are their options in terms of employment and development other than farming. Are there internet cafes? Are their marketing facilities for their farming produce say to reach other areas of the country? What about tourist options for this island? Is there a hotel, a marina cay for boats if tourist should come, etc?

    What about sporting facilities, such as a soccer field, a lawn tennis court, a valley ball court?

    What about annual programs to attract tourists?

    The Leguaners should talk to their regional leaders and see what can be done to draw more attention to their island. I believe their is hope if the people can band themselves together and work in the interest of the islanders.

 

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  A. Persaud 2 years ago in reply to A. Persaud
  • I agree with your reasoning. However there are visitors, politicians and other business folks whom might want the convenience of traveling by plane. An airstrip might also aid in development of subsidiary projects such as roads, etc.Anyway it is a sense of hopelessness that pervades places like Leguan that has prevented development and growth. Even though I have not been to Leguan for over thirty years, I still think it is a beautiful island from the little memories I have. And a little capital can go a far way to help develop the island.

    The Regional leaders need to use the government allocation to develop projects that optimizes employment and create businesses. Private citizens with money should help in the creation of tourist projects. Leguan should have big weekend hangouts and fun time.

    All the place need is one good leader with the support of the people to make a world of difference.

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  SHEIK 2 years ago in reply to A. Persaud
  • AT LEAST THE GOVT. IS MAKING PROPOSALS AS TO WHAT IS TO BE DONE OR WHAT “IS” BEING DONE? MUST YOU BLOGGERS BE SO NEGATIVE AS TO. ALL THE DEVELOPMENTS BEING DONE IN GUYANA.I THINK YOU SHOULD GO TAKE A TRIP & SEE FOR YOURSELF.I DID, & WAS AMAZED OF WHAT I SAW.
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  denobrega 2 years ago
  • Im sick of Guyanese complaining about how the government runs things while still putting that same inept government in power. Insane

 

 

  ghetto youth / SN I know that 2 years ago
  • Yeah,
    instead of building the sea defence and looking after the roads and cleaning the trenches andcanals,they going to build an airstrip.
    Good thinking, the white lady and she two sisters,along with their owners, will enter undected and will make use of the airstrip because Leguan does not have the capicity for the use of airstrip.
    Maybe a helicopter pad……………..

 

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  thomas 2 years ago in reply to ghetto youth / SN I know that
  • leguan need an airstrip,.you need fast communication to develope any area .the speed boat operator don’t want an airstrip on leguan because they will be losing the outrageous fee they are charging and an aeroplane will charge less than the speed boat and mini bus money and will also be faster.it‘s time for our island to go forward
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  storme williams 2 years ago
  • Infracture development must be accompanied by economic activity to compensate for the expenditure. Guyana needs more than primary production of rice and sugar. It needs agro industries to turn primary products into value added consumer goods. There needs to be creativity by both investors and govt to take the communities to the next level.

 

 

  A. Persaud 2 years ago in reply to storme williams
  • Sorme excellent suggestion. Maybe a “canning factory” of some sort may be a big first step. For instance “boxing/bottling fruit juices by DDL or Banks DIH can help in this regard. It is just need a start.
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  Man of God 2 years ago in reply to storme williams
  • What we need is creativity and investors to take this government to the next noon.

 

  Steve Hemraj 2 years ago
  • What Leguan needs is industries that will create jobs and utilize the skills of the Leguan people (plenty cheap labor).The only employment leguan offers is the police force; often non-leguanese, the RDC, the hospital; again mostly non-leguanese,nothing else.

    How many people will be employed by the airstrip; – again non-Leguanese. If you build the roads and sea defence and create infrastructure development, you will be able to emply some residence during the life of the projects. But there is no major industry in Leguan. Isn’t it time for the government to start thinking sustainable projects/development rather than pork barrel spending?

    I grew up in Leguan, educated in Anna Regina, never return to leguan, because there was no job. people leave leguan in search of job opportunities. I wished I lived and worked in Leguan. It provides a better quality of life afterall.

    There are severe stress living in leguan right now. no avenues for the young people and the rum shops are the only place to dwell. Eleven and twelve year old drinking like grown ups and getting drunk more than Moses (my father) did at age 60. Suicide in the last decade is highest under any other government. What is the cause?

    Leguan people should be outraged at this foolish project that will satify a special interest rather than the good of Leguanese. I tell you fellow leguanese, beware of the wolf in sheep clothing.

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  sk 2 years ago
  • Can’t say much of Leguan now, I lived there as a child, started school there. However, putting an airstrip there does not make any sense. Who will use it? There is an airstrip at Spring Garden on the Essequibo Coast that is already been under utilized. In addition to that less than ten percent of Guyanese use aeroplanes as a means of transport regularly at home. It’s too costly. Use the money for projects that is going to benifit the population of Leguan positively.

 

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  Man of God 2 years ago
  • This is the change they voted for. Educated rice farmers experiencing land reclamation.

 

 

 

  caesar agustus 2 years ago
  • A flat out lie. They have been having these problems like any other areas since people began living there.
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  roar 2 years ago
  • let the people build the dam airstrip you know how long i want to buy an aeroplane 4 combine 10 tractor 3 dragline 2 caterpillar excavator 2 bulldozer and put down a 3 ton ricemill and make my own small wharfe and go to Europe and buy a resonabale size ship for export/import help me please.
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  moh 1 year ago in reply to roar
  • roar like u win win the loto well me want some send me some me de a leguan and me na have rice fo naim

 

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  roar 2 years ago
  • let the people build the air strip for some time now i am contemplating sending down to Leguan 4 dragline,3 caterpillar excavator 2 caterpillar buldozer 8 mf tractor 3 mf combine a 3 ton sataki rice mill with dryer and silo then go to Europe buy a ship about 7000 ton for export/import please help me people.

 

  Carmilita 2 years ago
  • It doesn’t matter if you are supporting the ruling party or not? Wrong is Wrong.
    Anyone who lives on the Island of Leguan, toiled and struggled to stay alive, with deplorable roads, limited electricity supply, lack of facility for youths and so much more, would agree, even within their minds, that an airport is not the most important piece of investment the island needs at this time.
    Leguan needs financial injections in areas that would help create employment for the many youths who leave the island in search of betterment, such as myself.
    I lived there long enough to see that without any proper means of recreation, many of our young men turn to the “rum bottle”.
    What about a much needed community centre or better yet, a learning resource centre, monies to help us clear our playing fields and make their applicable for competitive games.
    What about fixing our roads and most importantly our sea defence?
    What about putting a few of those dollars into helping to refurbish the St.Peter’s Anglican Church that was built in 1827 and is in dire need of repairs. It other parts of the world, such a buiding with its history, is called called a heritage site. We dont have to be big in the tourism industry to preserve what is so unique that we have.
    There is so much that Leguan needs …. NOT WANT at this present time.
    Why not deal with our needs and then help us with our WANTS??

 

 

  Carmilita 2 years ago
  • Why should we have to settle for one thing to make the other perfect? It just does not make sense. I dont believe its logical to even entertain the idea something like that. What guarantee is there that things will get better after an airport is built. I am personally not against development, I would love my Island to be easily accessible and has amenities that we have always dreamed of. But I am also confident and believes in the old adage “You have to creep before you walk”.
 
 
 June 8, 2011  Leguanite Edit this

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