– says roads still deplorable, youth unemployment highBy Samuel SukhnandanResidents of the quiet village of Wauna in Barima/Waini (Region One) are faced with several issues which they hope Government would soon address. Deplorable roads and the lack of jobs seem to be the two major concerns which continue to affect these residents.During a recent visit to the village, residents told Guyana Times that during the campaign for the 2015 elections, the APNU/AFC (A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance for Change) coalition had promised to have these issues addressed, but nothing has to date been done to improve the situation.Vice Chairperson for the Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC), Sheleen Thom, told this newspaper she thinks those promises were made only for political purposes, because nothing has been done to improve the road infrastructure, and very few jobs have been created for the people in that village.“We are facing a lot of problems (in) regard to our roads, which are in a deplorableVice Chairperson of Wauna CDC, Sheleen Thomcondition. We have asked for the Government to come and look into it many times, and they are not doing anything towards fixing the roads; and it is difficult for children to travel to and fro, due to the road situation,” she stated.Thom said bus fares have been raised for both adults and children. Whereas adults were required to pay $300, they are now required to pay $500; and children, who paid $100, now have to pay $300.“And that is difficult for us, because we are not in a position — where people are in jobs — to get this kind of money to support our children and people in this community,” the NDC Vice-Chair complained bitterly.These fare increases have not been occasioned by an increase in the cost for vehicle spare parts, nor do they have anything to do with an increase in the cost for fuel. These increases were introduced mainly because of the deplorable condition of the roads in Wauna. This publication was told that passengers travelling from Wauna to Kumaka have to pay $1,000, and those desirous of travelling to White Water, a bit further, have to pay $2,000.“We spoke many times about it, and when the Government officials come in, theirThe main track leading into Wauna community is in a deplorable statepay a blind eye to the road. When they were on the campaign trail, they promised us, the people in Region One, what they will do and that they will build good road for us, and they are yet to fulfill their promise…This is not what we want; we want them to fulfill their promises, because that is what they promised us,” Thom asserted.The NDC Vice-Chair claimed that whenever Government officials visit the village, they always tend to divert from the issues, and instead of engaging the residents in critical matters of concern, they often try to dictate what they want to say; and quite often they leave no room for residents to speak.She said, “They are there (in Government) now, so they forget about us. And the Amerindian people, they are suffering a lot. Some of them — who don’t have money — they have to walk from here (Wauna) to the hospital or the post office. The pensioners have to pay the same passage too. They are charged the same bus fare.”Guyana Times understands that the Regional Administration had written the Communities Ministry requesting some assistance for pensioners in this regard, but there has as yet been no response. Aside from that, Thom complained that whenever engineers from the Central Government visit the region, particularly Wauna, they never visit the CDC or consult with the leadership as to what they are there for.“People in the community, they look on us to represent them, and we have to look into all of these things. They can’t come to our village and do what they want to do. We have some people in authority, especially in Government, that (are) trying to bring back dictatorship in our village,” she opined.Despite these challenges, Thom has made a commitment to work hard to bring about the needed changes that Wauna deserves. She also hinted that operatives or party supporters of the coalition Government who hold high positions have, on some occasions attempted to ‘flex their muscles’. “If we are not strong enough, they will want to push us out and do their own thing,” she added.EmploymentThe CDC official pointed to another situation which she thinks is deliberately being neglected by the coalition Government. According to Thom, while there have been initiatives to create employment for some persons in Wauna, enough is not being done to find employment for the youths.Although Government has replaced the Community Support Officer (CSO) initiative with the Hinterland Employment Youth Service (HEYS) programme, Thom is of the strong opinion that youths, especially in Wauna, are not being sufficiently encouraged and mentored to join the programme.While youths from Hosororo, Bumbury Hill, Wauna and other nearby villages have been encouraged to get on board, they are tasked with creating business plans before their application is given approval. She claimed that some selective persons affiliated to Government have already received approval.However, Thom said, “It’s really hard for these young people. Some of them are not only school drop-outs, but some of them haven’t even attended school.”The CDC official thinks the young people in these areas are being pressured to drop out, since many of them were asked to resubmit their plans.Thom also raised concerns about the poor medical services that are offered by the health clinics and hospital, and the standard and conditions of classrooms at many of the schools.