The vast Rupununi Region – larger than Costa Rica – is a zone of contempt and neglect. The PPP/C’s preoccupation with showmanship, rather than stewardship, is delusional. The results, after over two decades, have been the under-development of physical infrastructure, unsettled Amerindian land issues, an unsafe environment and uneasiness among the Region’s residents in five main areas:
- Education: Failure rates at the annual National Grade Six Assessment examinations are astronomically high. The majority of children fail all four subjects. Dropout rates for boys and girls in primary and secondary schools double the rates for the coastland. Residents have demanded the establishment of a Rupununi Technical Institute, a Rupununi Agricultural Institute and a Rupununi Craft Institute.
- Empowerment: Lethem, the administrative centre, is expanding but its municipal services – streets, lighting, sanitation, etc, – are deteriorating. APNU is committed to upgrading Lethem to become a town in order to improve administration of this vast region. Many communities are not satisfied with the lands allocated to them. Large tracts of land have been given out as mining and forestry concessions. APNU promises to sit down with communities to examine and settle these issues once and for all.
- Public health: Rupununi residents need a higher level of preventative health education, including nutrition and ante-natal and post-natal care. The so-called state-of-the-art Lethem Regional Hospital is inadequate to serve the needs of the region and has been described as little more than “a glorified health centre at its best.” APNU will ensure that the hospital is fully staffed with specialist doctors and adequately stocked with drugs and equipment.
- Public security: Crime is rampant. Contraband smuggling, narcotics-trafficking and gun-running are prevalent. Criminals easily exploit the Guyana Police Force’s lack of resources and inability to effectively patrol the long Guyana-Brazil border. There is no viable border and regional security plan.
- Public works: The Region’s aerodromes must be made more safe, roads more accessible in any weather and bridges must be reconstructed and made sturdier. The cost of living is exorbitant largely because of the administration’s reluctance to invest in building the essential Lethem-Linden highway and a proper regional road network. The Region has proven its capability of generating renewable energy by hydro-electricity, wind chargers and solar panels but these resources are underdeveloped. Residents, nevertheless, are obliged to converge outside the Lethem Power Company Inc. (LPCI) compound every year to protest against high electricity tariffs and low level of service.
The PPP/C is attempting to cultivate the Rupununi as a “vote farm” to reap the next electoral harvest. PPP/C politicians continue to delude themselves into thinking that handing out billions of dollars worth of solar panels, laptops, all-terrain vehicles and outboard engines will create a mass of grateful villagers who will forget their everyday grouses, grudges and grievances. This will not happen.
The APNU will create a secure environment for Amerindian and other residents, visitors and investors; improve the standard of education and establish genuine technical and agriculture institutes for youths; implement a new infrastructure policy for the rehabilitation and construction of safe aerodromes, bridges and roads.