…PSC, GPSU, diplomatic missions among applicantsThe Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) on Monday confirmed receipt of applications from entities for election observer status. However, the number of applications is cause for concern.At a press conference on Monday, Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Keith Lowenfield was asked for an update on local and international observers, and whether they have been approved.While not clear on whether the commission has approved the observers, Lowenfield did explain that entities such as the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) and the Private Sector Commission (PSC) are among the local applicants.“As far as the observers go, you may be aware that we had made a public advertisement for groups who are desirous of participating in the observation of the process. We have received very few of those.”“The Private Sector, the Public Service Union, I think some of the embassies, I think the US and Canadian (missions) would have made submissions to the Commission for approval. So they’re the only ones who’ve responded to us in terms of participating in the observation subset,” Lowenfield said.He explained that the applications received were deliberated on at the level of the Commission. Asked if any applicants were turned down by GECOM, Lowenfield noted that he had no knowledge of this.The last time Local government elections were held, in 2016, the US Embassy and the British and Canadian High Commissions had fielded observer teams. With elections expected to be held on November 12, the deadline for application for local observer status was October 11.Lists of candidates in Municipalities and Neighbourhood Democratic Councils have already been approved. The disciplined services are expected to go to the polls on November 2, with the general populace being scheduled to vote on November 12.The People’s Progressive Party had previously indicated that over 3000 candidates have been put forward by that party to contest local elections in all 80 Local Authority Areas (LAAs). The other parties will be contesting on a smaller scale.A Partnership for National Unity will be contesting elections in 76 of the 80 LAAs. Meanwhile, the Alliance For Change (AFC) on Wednesday announced plans to contest only 38 LAAs at the upcoming Local Government Elections (LGE), scheduled for November 12.This announcement follows previous statements made by that party to the effect that it had planned to contest the elections in more than 50 LAAs.
Vice Chairman of Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne), Dennis DeRoop is concerned about the poor performance of the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) in that region last year.DeRoop’s comments come in the wake of a letter from the NDIA indicating that Cabinet was instructed to give more than $220 million of the region’s $370 million agriculture budget to the NDIA.He was at the time speaking at a special Regional Democratic Council (RDC) meeting held on Wednesday to discuss moves by the Agriculture Ministry to have the NDIA take over the agriculture budget for that region.The clogged Number 43 outfall channelThe RDC has since written Communities Minister Ronald Bulkan expressing its disappointment.During his presentation, DeRoop explained that the NDIA will not adequately be able to carry out the functions the Regional Administration, pointing out that last year it failed the people of Region Six.“The Number 43/Joppa Outfall was not cleared once for last year. We (RDC) had to run the drainage pump at that location. We had to fuel it and run it for three months every day to solve the drainage problem in Black Bush Polder. Onto today the outfall cannot be excavated.”He added that the NDIA had paid a contractor in full to excavate the outfall channel at Number 43 Village several months ago.Meanwhile, also weighing in on the performance of the NDIA last year was Councillor Zamal Hussain who explained that it was the RDC that came to the rescue of rice farmers when the contractor had not cleared canals after being paid to by the NDIA.“And if we look at some of the works that they are doing, they have failed. There are supposed to be nine excavators in this region managed directly by the NDIA, they do the maintenance and everything for it, it is only two working,” Hussain revealed.He said too that there are thirteen mini-excavators in the region and only two are currently functioning. “If you have to get a gallon of oil you have to go to NDIA in Georgetown, and the machine is down for three weeks.”Cabinet has taken a decision to have the $114 million from the capital budget transferred to the NDIA along with $108 million from the current budget.DeRoop explained that apart from projects that are listed in the region’s agriculture budget, there are unforeseen emergency works which the regional Administration also have to oversee.“Funds from the current program will be spent here. So if we don’t have any funds we will have to run around with a begging basket when these emergencies come up,” he said.Husain, however, reiterated that the people of Region Six will suffer if the funds are handed over to the NDIA.Since last year, Guyana Times highlighted proposed moves by Central Government to have the Region Six agricultural budget given over the NDIA. Minister Bulkan had said it was untrue.During the National Budget debate Agriculture Minister, Noel Holder said there was no intention to do so. “If something is working well there is no need to change it,” Minister Holder told the National Assembly.
Former Chairman of the National Congress of Local Democratic Organs, Member of Parliament, Councillor of the Region 2 Regional Democratic Council and PPP member Isahak Basir, CCH, has died.According to family members, Basir suffered a massive heart attack on Saturday about 22:00h at his Anna Regina, Essequibo Coast residence after attending a meeting with Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo at State House.Political party affiliationHe paid a lot of attention to studying and propagating the goals of the People’s Progressive Party. He was articulate with a deep understanding of politics, cultureIsahak Basir, CCHand religion. He could have held his own in any company.Knowledge, for him, was to serve a purpose. That purpose was the welfare of the Guyanese people. He was an activist, an organiser and an educator of the PPP.His work saw him serving in the National Assembly of Guyana. It was a difficult period in the country’s history.Parliament was reduced to being a mere rubber stamp of the PNC regime. Comrade Basir took his activism to the National Assembly and had several epic confrontations with the PNC and the then Speaker. He felt the wrath of the PNC regime.He was shot several times in broad daylight at Adventure on the Essequibo Coast allegedly at the instigation of a PNC activist. It was his strength, both physical and political, and his love of life that saw him pulling through a near-death attack.Basir served his party and people with great distinction. He was one of few comrades who educated his family in the ideology of the PPP and encouraged them to be activists and fighters for peace and social progress.BiographyBorn in 1931 at Jacklow Pomeroon, he was a boat operator in his teenage years, and then he studied dentistry at the overseas Bennet College. By profession, he was a farmer, where he once farmed his father’s coconut estate in the Siriki Sands of the Upper Pomeroon River.After marrying Sabra Karim, they moved to Boerasirie, East Bank Essequibo where he worked at the Uitgvlut Distillery in the early 1960s as an assistant distiller.After he moved back to Jacklow, he got involved in the People’s Progressive Party where he travelled to Russia and Europe for training and chaperone young political students.He also represented his party in various meetings around the world; he was then PPP Organiser for the County of Essequibo.In 1975, his family moved to Hampton Court where he resided up to the time of his demise. In the late 1970s, he joined Parliament as the Shadow Agriculture Minister, in 1991.He was then moved to the Chairman of Local Congress and Democratic Organs in 1992. He was given the Cacique Crown of Honour (CCH) by Dr Jagan in 1994.He retired in 2001 and acted as an advisor to the Local Administration and Board of Governors in the Essequibo Technical Institute.
Residents of Parfaite Harmonie, West Bank Demerara (WBD) continue to cry out for urgent intervention in fixing several roads in their community which have become a nightmare for commuters and pedestrians.The badly damaged roads in two different streetsThe roads which was promised to the rehabilitated in 2018 by the Central Planning and Housing Authority (CH&PA) continue to be inundated with potholes which undoubtedly cause severe damage to vehicles.With the continuation of the rainy season, the holes continue to deteriorate.These roads are made of loam and is yet to be properly rehabilitated with asphalt. As a result of this, the roads are easily eroded and are in need of frequent rehabilitative works.As such, the residents are calling for an intervention and for the roads to be properly done in order for their distress to end.“You think is fair? Not all of us have vehicles so we usually have to walk out the streets to get to the main road before we can catch a car and it hard, because sometimes you walking into work with muddy shoes and in a state of embarrassment because of the roads, you head does hurt when you think of walking out there and oh lawd, when the rain fall, its worst” Natasha Abraham complained.Shayann Benjamin told the Guyana Times that as a result of the poor roads, taxis are refusing to make pickups at certain locations.“Sometimes you need a taxi to go somewhere and when you tell them which street, they outright tell you that they can’t make that, that their vehicles get mess or damage” she explained.Another resident, a taxi driver detailed the horrors of ploughing in the potholes.“I was struck for several hours because I take the risk to drive through one of the streets, but the hole was deep bad but rain was falling the day so I couldn’t see how deep the hole was. So I decide now to drive through and I end up stick in deh. You know how long, I try but nothing worked. One of my partner had to come with he bus and he pull me out”.In 2018 Minister within the Communities Ministry, Valarie Adams-Yearwood had promised to have the roads in Parfaite Harmonie upgraded but nothing has been done since.
– says had written to LGC without a responseCorriverton Mayor Winston Robert on Tuesday hired a tractor operator without consulting with the Local Government Commission (LGC), as is mandated.The Municipality has for some time been waiting on the Commission to employ a tractor operator and a revenue clerk.Corriverton MayorWinston RobertsAccording to Mayor Roberts, the Municipality of Corriverton is being stifled by the LGC. Several letters have been dispatched to the Commission to have the vacancies filed with urgency, but there was no response.“We are waiting on them to come and do the interviews. They say that we cannot do the interviews just like that. Today [Tuesday] I took it upon myself with the councillors to go ahead and employ a tractor operator. Whereby, we wrote a letter to them informing them of our actions with the signature of all the councillors. We had to do it,” the Mayor noted.Residents say the Municipality has not been collecting solid waste in a timely manner, which has led to a pile-up of garbage in residential areas.“We only have one operator and we are supposed to have two. We have our daily work in the market. We have to clean the fishery. So, I could not wait any longer on the Local Government Commission to come and make that decision for us. I took the chance off of my own. I am willing for them to prosecute me at any time for my decision,” the Mayor told this publication on Tuesday.When asked for a comment, LGC Head Mortimer Mingo declined.Mayor Roberts related that for the past week, the Municipality has only had one operator, thus, making it very difficult for it to properly manage solid waste.“He is a senior officer who will come off of the job in October. He has a backlog of 46 days leave and he chose to take the leave; that is within his rights but then we cannot sit and wait on the Local Government Commission to come and interview applicants and thenThe garbage pile-up in Corrivertonto wait five or six months for them to have the person employed. Who will pick up our garbage? Who will clean the fishery? What will become of our community? So, I went ahead with what I had to do,” the town’s Mayor boldly stated.Mayor Roberts highlighted that before the employment on Tuesday, he sought the advice on the Council but more so, he stressed that the reason for hiring the operator was to ensure that the town remains clean.
A Yarakita, North West District, Region One (Barima-Waini) man was on Tuesday shot dead by a Police Constable.Dead is Shaka Bourne. Reports are the now dead man pointed a loaded firearm at the Police Constable, who was responding to calls made by residents of threats being made.Guyana Times understands that the Constable, who was armed with a service revolver, responded about 19:45h.This publication was told that the Policeman went to Bourne’s home at Yarakita Village, and upon noticing the cop, the suspect immediately drew a loaded unlicensed revolver, threatening to shoot the Constable.According to a statement from the Guyana Police Force, the Policeman “instinctively discharged a round from his service revolver hitting him in the head”.After being shot, the man was disarmed by the Constable, picked up and rushed to Mabaruma Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.His body is presently at the Hospital’s Mortuary awaiting a post-mortem examination. The Police have since recovered a .38 revolver that was loaded with five rounds. Both the dead man’s weapon and the Constable’s service weapon were lodged at the Police Station. An investigation has reportedly been launched into the incident by Divisional Commander, Senior Superintendent Ravindradat Budhram.
The body of 63-year-old Rita Fredricks of 12th Field, Barnwell North, Mocha, East Bank Demerara was recovered from a trench in the community on Thursday morning.Neighbours observe the body of the elderly woman being removedThe woman had gone missing on Tuesday evening, and was not seen until Thursday morning, when her body was spotted floating in the canal.According to information reaching the Guyana Times, Fredricks and her husband were imbibing with a friend some distance away from their home on Tuesday evening, when she left to go home sometime around 22:00h. However, when her husband arrived home later that night, she was nowhere to be found.It is believed that, on the way home, the woman went to the nearby trench to wash her feet, during which she may have fallen into the water.This newspaper spoke with a close friend of the dead woman, Hettie Turnhill, at whose 10th Field house the elderly couple was drinking on the night Fredricks went missing.“She left around 10 o’clock (Tuesday night), and then I went to bed, leaving her husband and my sister. But the next morning her husband came back and asked if his wife by us, and I said, ‘No, we ain’t see aunty’. So he said he went home and didn’t see her anywhere,” the woman related.She said neighbours carried out a search in the area but did not find the woman anywhere, so the husband went to file a missing persons report at the station.Turnhill told this newspaper that on Thursday morning she was going to shower, sometime around 10:00h, and went to the trench to get water, then she made the discovery.The dam residents in Barnwell North are forced to use daily“My neighbour from the other side of the trench called out to me and we ended up talking. Whilst gaffing, I look in the trench and see her floating. Her head and ears were showing, so I screamed and called out for aunty’s daughter, who was nearby,” the woman recalled.Turnhill said that upon spotting the body, she knew immediately that it was the elderly woman. This, she said, was confirmed when the woman’s body was retrieved from the water, as she still had on the clothing she was wearing on the night she went missing.Meanwhile, Fredricks’ daughter Marcelle explain to the Guyana Times that she was away for a few days, and returned home on Thursday morning only to be greeted with the news of her mother’s disappearance.“I come by my mother’s friend (Turnhill) to find out what really happen, and she said she ain’t know too. So I sit down and she went to go ready to go in town, and when she went by the trench, she see the head and call for me,” the daughter stated.Marcelle added that the police were contacted and arrived on scene. The body was taken out of the water and was transported out of the area on an all-terrain vehicle (ATV), since vehicles could not traverse the area due to the deplorable condition of the road.The body of 63-year-old Rita Fredricks is currently at the Lyken Funeral Home awaiting a post-mortem examination.
Amid the controversy surrounding the proposed increase in tolls at the Berbice River Bridge, outspoken political activist and former Presidential Advisor Ramon Gaskin is suggesting a total buyout of the bridge by Government so as to resolve the issue.Political activist and former Presidential advisor Ramon GaskinGaskin on Wednesday said the situation has reached a point where the Government should seek to buy all the shares within the Berbice Bridge Company Inc (BBCI) as opposed to allowing the company to impose massive increases on the travelling public, which they can ill afford at this point.On Tuesday, the Chairman of the Berbice Bridge Company Incorporated (BBCI), Dr Surendra Persaud, who is also the Chairman for the National Insurance Scheme (NIS), announced steep increases to the current tolls at the facility.Guyana Times understands that NIS through its Chairman, was forced to push for the increase in tolls in order to protect its investment. NIS has majority voting rights on the BBCI Board of Directors.Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Gaskin also suggested that an alternative can be for Government and the NIS to solely own the bridge, thus buying the shares from all the other shareholders.“You don’t need to make a profit just cover maintenance and pay the NIS interest on their investment and you could lower the rate to where it was and it could go lower,” he advised.On the other hand, Gaskin also suggested that NIS could put in for receivership. This is a remedy available to secured creditors to recover amounts outstanding under a secured loan in the event the company defaults on its loan payments.“Put it into receivership and get rid of the rest of shareholders… by buying the shares out… but make it a Government owned bridge together with the NIS and reduce the rates. The bridge could be nationalised, and Government could buy it over in the interest of NIS,” he said.Asked whether he believes the Government would make such a move, the political activist said while the Government could show some level of reluctance but added that it is in the best interest of all parties involved and as such it should be done.“The Government don’t understand any of these things… But they must look at protecting the interest of people. If they go ahead and buy the shares and take over the bridge it will be good for everyone,” he added.Further, Gaskin said the Chairman of the BBCI, Dr Surendra Persaud should be questioned by the Police over the non-payment to the NIS. He believes that Dr Persaud who chairs both the NIS and BCCI should be a matter of concern. He is also a member of the Alliance For Change (AFC).Shareholders positionOne of the shareholders told Guyana Times that it recognises that the Berbice Bridge is in serious financial jeopardy given that debts have reached maturity and few options are available to stave off bankruptcy.“The Government should sit down with the bridge company and work out the appropriate subsidy with due reference to the financial model and or the Concession Agreement. This is necessary as a result of Government’s refusal to allow incremental increases, or in other words, refusing to honour its contractual obligations as per the Concession Agreement,” the shareholder said.Another noted that if an agreement cannot be reached, them it is recommended that the Government buy back the bridge and compensate investors in keeping with the financial model and other investment documents.“Once the Government executes a buyback it will be able to lower tolls. If this is approached properly Government might still be able to preserve public private partnerships in Guyana,” the shareholder stated.It added that the investors assumed significant risk to build the bridge. While the bridge has been de-risked for several years, following its successful opening, the ordinary shareholders are yet to receive a single cent in dividends.“We recognise the efforts of the Directors of the bridge company who has a fiduciary duty to preserve the financial integrity of the company in the context of the dire circumstances the company must be facing at this time. We also empathises with commuters who are caught in the middle,” a representative of a shareholder told Guyana Times.BBCI letterIn a letter sent from the BBCI to Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson dated Monday, October 15, it stated that there have been four requests for the tolls to be adjusted but to no avail. It expressed disappointment having met with the Minister there was no positive outcome.However, the company having sought legal advice was told that they have to consult with the Minister for the toll increases. “It is by under and virtue of the above provision that the Berbice Bridge Company Inc is consulting with you in relation to the proposals for an adjustment in tolls,” the missive stated while still declaring that the increases will take effect on November 12, , the same day as Local Government Elections.
…to appear in NYC court todayTwo weeks after a Guyanese, Troy Thomas, lost a High Court challenge to stop his extradition to the United States, where he is wanted for a 2011 murder, he was handed over to US authorities on Wednesday.Extradited murder accused: Troy ThomasThis was confirmed by Director of Prisons (ag) Gladwin Samuels, who would only say that he handed over Thomas, an inmate in the local prison, to be extradited.However, the US embassy in Guyana confirmed on Wednesday that Thomas was en route to the North American country to face the two criminal acts allegedly committed in New York over seven years ago.“[Wednesday] evening, he will be in the custody of the New York Police Department, and [Thursday] morning he will appear before an American judge in court to face charges. Thomas’s extradition reflects over one year of close coordination between the Government of Guyana and the US Embassy,” a press release from the embassy stated.The US Embassy thanked the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), the Police Force, the Guyana Prison Service, the Public Security Ministry and the staff at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport for their close cooperation and commitment to justice.“Corruption and criminal activity rob the Government and citizens of Guyana of money that could have been spent on education, healthcare, and important infrastructure work. Extraditions are an important law enforcement tool in fighting transnational criminal organisations. Today, a fugitive from justice is being extradited to the United States to stand trial, creating a new precedent,” the American Embassy noted.Furthermore, in recognition of this positive step forward, US Ambassador to Guyana, Sarah-Ann Lynch, said “The Government of Guyana’s actions over the past year clearly indicate its dedication to law and order and established norms of international criminal justice – Guyana is moving in the right direction. Establishing a roadmap for future extraditions, bringing a fugitive to justice, making Guyana a safer place for Guyanese citizens – this is the best example of rule of law existing in Guyana”.Attempts to stop extraditionThomas has been accused of murdering Keith Frank, 20, a Guyanese who was shot and killed on December 11, 2011, outside a Richmond Hill, New York party. He has also been accused of inflicting injuries upon Dr Katherine Maloney. He then fled to Guyana.Since 2012, authorities in the US had issued a wanted bulletin for the murder suspect. As such, in 2018, US Attorney General and Secretary of State sent an extradition request to the Guyana Government, which was served to the Foreign Affairs Ministry by the country’s Embassy here. As a result of the request, Thomas was apprehended by the Guyana Police Force last year and was being kept in custody at the Lusignan Prison.But Thomas attempted to use the local courts to stop his extradition. In fact, a hearing in the Magistrates’ Courts last year resulted in Magistrate Sherdel Isaacs-Marcus ruling in December that Thomas be extradited to the US to face the charges levelled against him.In committing Thomas for extradition, the Magistrate, among other things, ruled that she believed the fugitive was Troy Thomas, although he insisted that his name was Marvin Williams.In June 2012, a US judge issued a warrant for his arrest in the name of Troy Thomas.However, Thomas moved to the High Court to further block his extradition. He challenged, among other things, his “illegal” confinement and argued in an affidavit that he is being unlawfully detained and subjected to legal processes unsupported by any legal basis or foundation.Thomas applied to the court for leave to issue a writ of habeas corpus, directing the Commissioner of Police to show cause why he should not be immediately released.However, High Court Judge, Justice Navindra Singh dismissed the application by the prisoner. He ruled on April 4, 2019, that there is sufficient evidence against Thomas to warrant his extradition to the US. In addition, Thomas was ordered to pay $450,000 in court costs.The extradition took effect on Wednesday after Thomas did not appeal the High Court ruling.Public Security Minister, Khemraj Ramjattan, explained to Guyana Times that because there was no appeal within the stipulated timeframe, he gave the order for the US fugitive to be handed over to authorities there.“He had a right to go to the Court of Appeal but he did not, his deadline for the appeal was [Tuesday, April 23, 2019] …we informed the Americans that his did not. The Americans then made arrangements to get him over [there]…The US Marshals came in today (Wednesday) and they took him out,” the Public Security Minister explained.According to Ramjattan, he ordered the Prisons Director to let the police escort Thomas to the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA), where he was handed over to US Marshals.While this extradition exercise is the first successful one in recent years between the two countries, former US Ambassador to Guyana, Perry Holloway, late last year said that the path has been cleared now for the exchange of more fugitives between Guyana and the US.He believed that the extradition of Thomas and the impending extradition of US-based Guyanese, Marcus Bisram, who is wanted in Guyana for a 2016 murder, has paved the way for this.“I think once those two guys go back and forth, I think you will see more [extraditions] in both directions,” he had told reporters.
FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The Fort St. John Huskies’ Fill the Bus fundraiser for the Salvation Army Food Bank has once again shown how generous residents are in the Energetic City.On Sunday the team, along with volunteers from around the North Peace, collected roughly 27,000 lbs. of food for the local food bank. Hockey players from both the Huskies and the Northern Metalic Bantam Flyers helped collect food by going door-to-door in the chilly weather, while other volunteers filled boxes at the arena as donations streamed in.Peace River Hydro Partners once again made a huge contribution by donating enough food to fill one of the 745C rock trucks that are used on the dam’s construction. The over $5,000 worth of food was jointly contributed by PRHP employees, who pitched in $2,200 that was matched by the consortium. Other Site C Contractors who donated food and money were ATCO Two Rivers Lodging, Saulteau Safety & Security and Kikinaw Energy Services.- Advertisement – The Huskies’ bus during the team’s Fill the Bus fundraiser in 2016. The bus had mechanical issues on Tuesday night, causing that night’s game to be postponed. Photo by Chris Newton Photo by Chris Newton Photo by Chris Newton Students at Alwin Holland Elementary also pitched in with 1,168 items of food. Other organisations that made major donations included: Canadian Tire, Tim Hortons, Domino’s, Save On Foods, M&M Food Market, the Fort St. John Rotary Club, and BMO.Huskies executive and Fill the Bus organiser Alan Karasiuk said that the most poignant moment of the event came on Sunday evening when the completely full bus pulled up to the food bank. Karasiuk said that when they arrived, the shelves in the food bank’s storage room were practically bare. The donations were incredibly well-received by the Salvation Army, especially since the economy has been hard-hit in recent years.