FAR Flung under the warm Atlantic sun, with Berbice awash with the sunrise in the east and Essequibo bathed with the sunset in the west, Guyana today awakens from its 55 years of slumber as a giant in the Caribbean and South American region, with its rolling verdant fertile land along the coast dazzling the eye, trees waving in the tropical wind and flat savannah opening up as far as the eye could see for grazing cattle and sheep, and vibrant rivers teeming with fish, these providing the Guyanese people with an abundant opportunity for sustainable progress. The Guyana land, especially in Berbice and Essequibo and the hinterland, has sustained the nation with a thriving agriculture industry since the nation’s founding, and Government today understands this bond between Guyanese and their land, with the State’s land policy of easing up land access for average citizens a visionary, humane, natural strategy for socioeconomic progress. Much of the imminent progress Guyanese face today stems from the natural resources inherent in the land, including oil and gas. Rural life fuels the nation’s progress. People tend to focus on Georgetown as the centre of the Guyanese world, but the role of Berbice, Essequibo, and the hinterland, is without doubt of immense importance and significance to the overall development process. The state recognises the role these far-flung areas play, their valuable contribution to the national well-being.
Demerara, being the main Government region of the country with the City of Georgetown in its midst and hosting the international airports and major development projects, always instinctively functions as the focus of attention and the main national hub. However, Berbice and Essequibo play a great role in this country’s welfare, and the hinterland serves as the showcase for Guyana as a model for the world’s natural environment, with Iwokrama the centrepiece, not to mention hosting of the mining industry that dots pockets of the interior.
The people of Berbice and Essequibo gave so much to this country, hard-working souls who work the land with patience, sustaining the rice and sugar and cash crop and forestry industry even through hardships and sometimes major flooding and even when international markets are unfavourable, as with world sugar prices, or low demand for rice. From rolling acres of flourishing rice in Essequibo, to sugarcane fields in Berbice, and the sprawling ranches of the Rupununi, and more and more these days, eco-resorts, Guyanese walk and live their attachment to the land with dedication, discipline, and determination to achieve success.
Many of the leaders who run the State today came out of families that worked the land. Many business leaders and academics and scores of Guyanese who accomplish international excellence emerged from land cultivating families. Guyanese and their land, it is a close relationship, and so it is almost poetic that Government made land access for housing and economic progress a major development strategy. When President Ali served as Minister of Housing, the Government made house lots allocation a cornerstone of its development agenda. Indeed, when the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) came to Government after free and fair elections in 1992, Dr Cheddi Jagan’s Government faced a mammoth housing crisis across the country, and quickly solved the Guyanese housing disaster that the People’s National Congress (PNC) regime had caused. With 100,000+ house lots allocated to citizens, today Guyana enjoys the privilege of being a well-housed nation, and yet Government continues to implement a housing plan, as a natural ongoing development strategy.
To Berbicians and Essequibians, whether land working families or professionals like lawyers and doctors and teachers and administrators and business owners and scores of Guyanese waking up every day in these regions to make Guyana a great nation on the earth in this 21st century, quietly, unassumingly, anonymously working and developing their communities, the nation owes a depth of gratitude.
The residents of Lethem and Linden and Bartica and outlying areas who do their part to make this nation function with progressive movement, these citizens are important and valuable. The nation may focus on Georgetown and the massive world class projects now underway on the East Bank and East Coast of Demerera, but it is only a matter of time before these far-flung areas see major projects dazzle their communities. With the Suriname-Corriverton international bridge and the Lethem-Brazil highway and with anticipated victory at the International Court of Justice in the Venezuela-induced border crisis for Essequibo, development projects will flow through the entire land as these mega infrastructure projects come into fruition.
In the charm of the ancient county, Berbice, and the grace of the Cinderella county, Essequibo, and the mystery of the hinterland with the ranch-dotted flatland and intimidating towering mountains of the Rupununi, Guyanese inhabit a land from the gods, a tremendously blessed country, a star of the Caribbean and a jewel of South America on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean.
Throughout the land, Guyanese must be sensitised with a deep awakened consciousness of their country, of how amazing is this nation, and with stunning socioeconomic progress and development happening now with such rapid pace, propagating the intangible goodwill of the nation becomes of utmost importance in propelling the Guyana brand, first to Guyanese, and then to the world community. One of the most ground-breaking projects Guyana accomplished in the past decade is the Berbice bridge, linking Demerara and Berbice with a smooth roadway that even opens easy access between Suriname and Georgetown. Now, with keen cooperation between Suriname and Guyana, all of Berbice becomes a potential development corridor. In time, with development of the human resources capital across the country, Berbice will rank with Demerara as a thriving development hub, with Essequibo and the hinterland flowing with the tide of progress. And through it all, the Guyanese love for the land would fuel the future, as much as it did for the nation’s history.
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