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|42 years of hard struggles and great rewards|
|Wednesday, 22 February 2012 21:06|
FORTY TWO years ago today, independent Guyana, led by the ego of late Executive President, Forbes
Burnham, drove the country into the league of nations with republican status, and on February 23, 1970, we became a republic. It is on account of this change in status that today we are celebrating Mashramani, an Amerindian word which means “ fun after hard work” or “the celebration of a job well done.”
But for 22 years following the declaration of Guyana as a republic, it was struggle after struggle by the majority of Guyanese for genuine freedom and democracy, the right to a decent lifestyle and free and fair elections. These were all fundamental rights of the people that were trampled upon by the ruling clique and for which relentless battles were fought both in and out of Guyana. Those were the days when ‘fun after work’ was just an empty phrase.
The people remember only too well when they had to endure the rigours of being in long queues for hours unending, and even days in desperate attempts to purchase a few basic food items for their hungry children. Shortages, exorbitant prices, starvation wages and salaries, squalor settlements, dilapidated and rundown health institutions and schools, a mere pittance to pensioners and social assistance recipients were only some of the hallmarks of the ruling clique in those days.
However, the relentless struggles by the people brought a wind of change in 1992, when for the first time since the 1964 general elections, the people voted a truly representative government led by the PPP/C into power, and indeed hard work began in earnest to rebuild the country and heal the ulcer that had plagued the entire nation.
The government which remains in power today, from the outset, embarked on several crusades across the country in monumental efforts to repair and heal the damage left by the previous government, and it has done so admirably, that today all areas of Guyanese life have been remarkably improved, and the process is a continuing one.
Today, the people have every right to celebrate as thousands are now housed in their own homes in newly established housing schemes across Guyana. There are housing schemes in almost every village along the coastland and even in some riverine areas. Today, hardly is our landscape debauched by squalor settlements as most of these which have been inherited from the PNC, have now been regularised. The people are cognisant of the fact that the housing drive is continuing apace, and thousands more houselots would be made available to Guyanese this year, while plans are in train to regularise more squatter settlements that are still standing.
Our school children have been included in the nation’s pie, and they no longer have to hawk cigarettes to help feed hungry mouths in their homes. Most of the 1,273 schools have been rehabilitated, refurbished, repaired and new ones constructed throughout the country. These include 386 at the nursery level, 426 at the primary level and 426 at the secondary level. In addition, a few state-of-the-art secondary and primary schools have been constructed to cater for our children’s comfort.
We are also obliged to mention the 10 technical/vocational schools across the country which are post-secondary in nature. In addition, two Technical/Vocational Educational Training Centres have been built and fully equipped at Leonora on the West Coast of Demerara and at Mahaicony on the East Coast. The country’s teachers are also being trained at training centres in Berbice, Demerara and Essequibo.
The people also acknowledge the Herculean task accomplished in the health sector to bring better health care to all the people of this country. In addition to new hospitals being built, there are five fully equipped diagnostic centres with trained doctors and nurses at Suddie on the Essequibo Coast; Leonora on the West Coast of Demerara; Diamond on the East Bank of Demerara; one at Mahaicony on the East Coast of Demerara; and another at Port Mourant on the Corentyne Coast, while there are plans to build a specialty hospital, all for the benefit of the people of this country.
Wages and salaries for all categories of workers in the public sector have been increased tremendously. Recipients include teachers, doctors, nurses, public servants, members of the police force and the army. Our security forces in particular have been richly rewarded.
We cannot omit our pensioners and recipients of social assistance. They have also made their contributions in the struggle for a new beginning and they too, have been tremendously awarded with hefty increases, while the “means test” is no longer a hurdle for them. That piece of qualifying requirement has been withdrawn.
Because of the hard tasks and battles carried out throughout the years since 1992, Guyanese from all walks of life; from every quarter of the land have been celebrating in pomp and style and in true Guyanese tradition, and year after year since 1992 the celebrations have been bigger, brighter and better. Now the people indeed have something to celebrate after hard work—MASHRAMANI.
|Last Updated on Wednesday, 22 February 2012 21:07|
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