Days before travelling to New York, President David Granger rolled into Linden Friday afternoon on his first interaction with residents since generale elections four months ago and was greeted warmly on a walk-about of several areas.
He told persons along the way at Mackenzie and Wismar that he went to say “thanks for your support,” presumably for the general elections in May that saw the APNU+AFC come to power.
The coalition, whose major partners are Granger’s People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) and Moses Nagamootoo’s Alliance For Change (AFC), hold a one-seat majority in the 65-seat National Assembly.
The President’s visit comes at a time when a section of PNCR supporters believe that Granger has neglected or sidelined them because they have been vociferous about how party matters are being handled in that region. For his part, Granger, as Opposition Leader, has already made his feelings known about a boisterous protest by supporters back in October 2014. “I sorry ah tek so long but ah been workin,” he told residents.
Several weeks ago, the President journeyed to Old England, Upper Demerara River for the opening of a resort owned by former PNCR Leader, Robert Corbin.
Noticeably absent on the walkabouts were several key and vocal PNCR members including former Region 10 Chairman, Sharma Solomon; former Region 10 parliamentarian, Vanessa Kissoon and Gordon “Badheart” Callendar. One Region 10 Councillor told Demerara Waves Online News that the decision-making body was not properly informed that the Guyanese leader would have been travelling to Linden.
The President said he has been very busy- and was even preparing to wing out to New York next week for the United Nations General Assembly. He promised faithfully that he would be returning to Linden in October for a meeting to address their concerns including joblessness. “…particularly the issue of employment for young people…employment is a big issue here and over the next five years we want to deal decisively with the unemployment problem; people coming out of school must be able to look forward to employment,” he said.
Granger promised that his administration would sit down with the Region 10 Chairman, the Council and the Corporate Community to explore ways of providing sporting facilities, protecting the environment and addressing education especially access by children with special needs. “This is not rally, this is not campaign. This is fixing the problems here. We will come back and work out these problems along with the Chairman, along with your representatives,” said Granger who had been previously criticised for leaving locally elected representatives out of key decision-making.
That did not stop a group of residents at Blueberry Hill, Wismar from detaining Granger for several minutes to tell him about their problems in the presence of Region 10 Chairman, Renis Morian. One of the burning issues was truancy. Morian added that “a number of children in Region 10 are out of school because the Redo (Regional Education Officer) has failed to place them so that is the situation a lot of parents are facing- everyday they are at my office with that situation,” added Morian.
A Wismar resident complained bitterly to the President that the Welfare Department has been doing little or nothing to address complaints that nursery, primary and special needs children are not being given opportunities to attend school. “Even when you go to the Welfare Department asking them to come to the area to look into the complaints (so) that the children could be placed in a school and to look into the situation, they got a deaf ears, they don’t turn up and the children just running all around and all kinds of things been happening to them,” she said.
Morian announced that the 2016 Budget would cater for the construction of a park and youth centre in Wismar for the first time. “We had twenty-three years of suffering and I think it is time we experience the kind of change that we are seeing,” he said to loud cheers
Wherever the President went, he was warmly greeted by adults and children alike. One woman said at Mackenzie queried “Where else in the world you can go and take picture with the president like this? A little girl wondered aloud “Where Nagamootoo?” and another asked about First Lady Sandra Granger: “Where he wife?”
Across at One Mile, Wismar a woman, on learning that the President would be leaving before sunset, chimed in “We ain’t want mosquito bite we President.”
Along the way, pockets of residents went out, waved and even took photos as the eight-vehicle presidential entourage passed by.