… Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Minister ordered Council elections not be held – Vice ChairmanBy Kizzy ColemanMatarkai, a newly titled village of Four Miles in Port Kaituma, Region One (Barima-Waini), is currently out of leadership, as instructions were passed for elections to elect Councillors not be held in the village.Natural Resources Minister Raphael TrotmanAccording to reports reaching Guyana Times, Four Miles was a titled reservation before the May 11 General and Regional Elections. But when the elections for Village Councillors were held in August of last year, Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Minister Sidney Allicock passed instructions not to have elections in Four Miles as he was not informed that the village was titled.Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Minister Sydney AllicockAlthough the title document has surfaced, Minister Allicock has failed to set a date for the election in the village.According to the Vice Chairman of Region One, Sarah Browne, the village is currently being run “haphazardly.” She also noted that villagers are being left in the dark as it relates to a number of decisions that are made for the community. One example, she said, is the recent visit by Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman.“I’m in receipt of a letter sent by a political activist who wrote the Toshao instructing him to welcome the Minister and to clean the environment. Nobody from the Ministry is observing the Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC)”.FPIC entails that for a decision affecting indigenous peoples to be taken, they must benefit from ample consultation which fully informs them of the issue at hand, only after which their consent should be given independently from coercive pressure from other stakeholders.Browne explained that no protocol is being followed in the village as it is without leadership.She further explained that currently, there is controversy surrounding the Four Miles land title as ‘non-Amerindians’ are seeking to have the title revoked.The Vice Chairman pointed out that Minister Trotman in a general meeting had given the community three months in which he would solve the issue.“The Minister needs to note that Amerindian land titles are absolute and forever as provided for in the Amerindian Act of 2006 and the Government cannot revoke the title. Even considering such a move is lawless and unconstitutional”.In the meanwhile, as the village is out of proper leadership, the overall state of the village is deteriorating. One of the most notable is the neglect of road rehabilitation.According to Browne, provisions have been made in the 2016 budget for roads in the region to be built and repaired under the Infrastructure Ministry but to date, no works have commenced.“It seems as if the process is moving at a snail’s pace. Should the rains start to fall, the current situation would be 100 times worst,” Browne noted.Browne explained that the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) in the region had proposed for the project to be completed in the 2016 budget but it was taken out and placed in the central government budget.She further disclosed that Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson met with residents late last year and told them that the RDC is solely responsible for what is happening in the region.“I am the Chairperson of the Public Infrastructure Committee in this region and as such, I am calling on the Government to commence work as it is not the responsibility of the committee to do such.”Browne lamented that the residents of the region are suffering as the roads are currently in horrible conditions and are continuing to deteriorate.Guyana Times was unable to reach Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Minister Allicock or Minister Trotman for a comment on the issue.
Two Guyanese, along with five Venezuelans, were on Wednesday nabbed by ranks of G Division (Essequibo Coast and Islands) with illegal fuel. They are currently in Police custody assisting with investigations.According to information reaching Guyana Times, a joint operation was conducted by personnel from the Guyana Energy Agency (GEA) and Police, and around midday they intercepted an unnamed unregistered wooden vessel at the mouth of the Pomeroon River.The vessel was loaded with approximately 100 barrels of gasoline. The captain, along with the other occupants, was arrested.