Dear Editor,The findings of an opinion survey conducted by this writer for the North American Caribbean Teachers Association (NACTA) last July showed people are disenchanted with the incumbent coalition APNU/AFC Government’s handling of several issues.The Government scores poorly on a range of issues, while the Opposition has the confidence of a majority.The survey finds that three quarters of the nation feel they are worse off today than they were three years ago. A majority of the nation is not satisfied with the Government’s handling of the economy, corruption, crime, contract negotiations with Exxon, the Cyber Bill, and the termination of sugar workers. People do not express much hope in their future wellbeing, with an overwhelming majority saying the country is moving in the wrong direction.They are critical of the Government for its termination of well-known independent-minded Guyana Chronicle columnists Lincoln Lewis and David Hinds. The nation is also disappointed with how the Government has marked the late President Cheddi Jagan’s 100th birth anniversary. They say Government has not done enough to honour the late Dr Jagan, with many saying the Government has disrespected the memory of the founding father of the nation.Respondents also express grave concern about the fairness of the next elections in Guyana. A large majority say they don’t think the elections will be free and fair. However, if an election were called now and it is free and fair, people feel PPP would win a majority. Guyanese say the US has to be the guarantor of free and fair elections in Guyana, and a lopsided majority want closer relations with America.The latest Guyana survey was conducted in June/July to find out opinions on a number of current issues relating to people’s quality of life. NACTA interviewed 1340 adult respondents (550 Indians, 400 Africans, 242 Mixed, 135 Amerindians, and 13 Whites and others belonging to other ethnic categories) to yield a demographically representative sample of the adult population. People were polled randomly. The results of the poll were analysed at a 95 percent significance level, and an approximate statistical sampling error of plus or minus four percentage points was found. This means that in theory, in 19 cases out of 20, the results based on such a sample will differ by about 4 percentage points from what should have been obtained by seeking to interview the whole adult population.According to the findings of the opinion survey, crime remains the dominant issue, with people expressing widespread fear of being robbed; 86 per cent say they are dissatisfied with Government’s policy for combating crime.Many also express concerns about the handling of the economy (64 per cent), corruption (67 per cent), governance (63 per cent), Exxon contract (74 per cent), terminated sugar workers (68 per cent), and Cyber Bill (71 per cent). Some 88 per cent feel the country is moving in the wrong direction. Some 92 per cent feel Guyana should cement closer links with the United States.Yours truly,Vishnu Bisram
The Guyana National Bureau of Standards (GNBS) seeks to have more accredited laboratory testing facilities conforming to international standards as part of the agency’s strategic plan for the next five years.GNBS Conformity Department Head Candelle Walcott-BostwickLocal manufacturers are set to benefit from more accredited laboratories shortly. Products prepared for export will be tested and accompanied by certificates enabling their acceptance on the international market.GNBS Conformity Department Head Candelle Walcott-Bostwick, in an interview with the Government Information Agency (GINA), explained: “Quite recently, we would have received notification that the US FDA [Food and Drug Administration] will be enforcing certain requirements where local manufacturers involved in food manufacturing will have a HACCP system in place and the laboratories that they use for testing must be accredited. HACCP is the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point system that allows a food manufacturer to identify the risk or the areas of contamination, while involved in the manufacturing process from start to the end.”According to the US FDA website, HACCP is a management system in which food safety is addressed through the analysis and control of biological, chemical, and physical hazards from raw material production, procurement and handling, to manufacturing, distribution and consumption of the finished product.These local testing facilities will serve as certification and inspection bodies, accredited and meeting the requirements of an international standard. The GNBS has set goals for the next five years to stress the need for standards to be embraced in the business environment, benefitting both the manufacturer and consumer.The primary goals of the GNBS will see a more effective means of fulfilling duties captured in its mission and vision. Walcott-Bostwick noted, “At GNBS, our primary goals really set out to show how we first work with consumers, with industry and stakeholders, communicating with them the benefits and the role of the GNBS.”The GNBS recently finalised a five-year strategic plan providing the opportunity for stakeholders to embrace standards, since standards add value to the quality of life.The agency is also working towards building quality infrastructure to support trade, inspection and certification bodies.
The preliminary report into the recent fire at the State-run Drop-in Centre has revealed that proper fireMinister of State Joseph Harmonsafety regulations were not adhered to, according to Minister of State Joseph Harmon.The preliminary report into the July 8 fire, which claimed the lives of six-year-old Antonio George and his two-year-old brother Joshua George, was handed over to Government last Friday by Retired Colonel Windee Algernon who was appointed by President David Granger to conduct the inquiry into the tragic incident.Harmon told reporters at the post Cabinet briefing on Wednesday that preliminary findings highlighted some systematic problems that needed to be addressed.“The preliminary report pointed to some issues of bad policy arrangements for fire, it pointed to the fact that there was not enough collaboration between entities that had to do with the management of the Drop-in Centre, it pointed to the fact that there were not enough drills for emergencies and/or fire,” the Minister of State outlined.Harmon noted that these issues are not limited only to the Centre but all Government buildings. He stated that efforts will have to be undertaken to ensure that the relevant fire code and building standards are adhered to.These findings comes less than a week after President Granger had warned that anyone found culpable of negligence will be held accountable for the death of the two young boys.“If any persons are culpable of gross negligence or dereliction of duties, yes we will make a judgment as to whether they are fit to hold those positions and if you equate that with rolling of heads, then yes,” the President posited.Nevertheless, he outlined that the aim of the inquiry is to prevent a reoccurrence.“We need to find out what happened and prevent a reoccurrence. In investigating what occurred, if we find that there was gross dereliction of duties, yes persons who omitted to commit acts, which would have prevented that catastrophe will be punished and if the punishment proposed is that they be removed from their positions so be it,” Granger told reporters on the weekly televised programme, the Public Interest, which aired on Friday last.Just after midnight on July 8, the two young brothers perished in a fire which occurred at the Drop-in Centre on Hadfield Street, Georgetown. Care takers at the facility claimed that there was an electrical spark on the top floor of the building, where the girls were housed, and a fire immediately broke out, spreading throughout the building.According to reports, the elder brother Antonio was asleep in the dormitory at the time when the fire started and as the younger brother Joshua was being taken out of the building by care givers, he realised that his brother was not with him.The two-year-old managed to free himself from the grip of the care giver and ran back into the burning building. The two brothers were trapped in the building and their charred remains were subsequently recovered.
Relief is rapidly on its way for Sophia residents as the Ringroad project moves towards completion. Minister within the Public Infrastructure Ministry, Annette Ferguson said the works which began in December 2015 are almost completed. She noted that the project will give the residents value for money since it is being done to international standards.Minister within the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Annette FergusonOngoing works at A Field, SophiaSpeaking with the Government Information Agency (GINA), Ferguson said that from A Field to B Field of the Ringroad project is 80 per cent completed. That section of the contract was awarded to Ivor Alleyne for $62 million. Culverts are completed while placement of crusher run is ongoing.Further at the B Field to C Field section, works are 85 per cent completed. That contract was awarded to V Dalip Enterprise for $55 million. The culvert and other road works are completed while the final layer is to be completed by the Ministry of Public Infrastructure’s Special Projects Unit.The C Field to D Field section was awarded to Courtney Benn Construction Services for $87 million and is 45 per cent completed.Ferguson explained that the Ministry of Public Infrastructure will continue to bring relief to the residents of Sophia. “You know they were neglected for years and I’m happy the government through the Ministry of Public Infrastructure has taken the initiative. That is one promise we made, that once elected we would bring relief.”Ferguson urged the residents to take care of the resources they now have and not destroy any.
Less than two years to conclude the United States Agency for International Development-Food and Enterprise Development (USAID-FED) support toward local farmers in the country, Lofa County is basically utilizing the technical expertise and capital benefits provided by the program.Lofa is noted for being one of the bread baskets of Liberia, where agriculture activities are always active.The five-year program, which started in 2010 is aimed at providing farming equipment, improved agricultural skills in swamp rice development, cassava planting, livestock and vegetable production.It also seeks to create marketing opportunities for local farmers, extension services and processing facilities.The aim is to reduce hunger and promote food security for Liberians through increased agricultural productivity and profitability. It is implemented in six counties: Bong, Nimba, Lofa, Grand Bassa, Margibi and Montserrado.The United States Government is supporting the Liberian priorities to build sustainable local capacity, make a difference in people’s lives, and move towards a shared vision of self-sufficiency and prosperity.USAID FED is Africa’s largest project under US President Barack Obama’s Feed the Future Initiative, which promotes a move away from subsistence and increasing food security by working with public and private bodies, including the Government of Liberia, the private sector, local NGOs and other key stakeholders.Interestingly, when the Daily Observer newspaper visited Lofa County recently, farmers from three districts including Voinjama, Foyah and Kolahun, expressed great satisfaction for USAIDFED’s support toward their various agricultural projects.They said that with support received, there is gradual improvement in there farming activities.According to them, farming implement such as machetes, hoes, power tillers, fertilizers and others have been provided by USAID-FED to improve their productivities.They also disclosed being taught the knowledge of improved skills through workshops and in farmers’ field schools.However, the farmers said that marketing has been a serious challenge for them but were now happy that FED was addressing such constraints.A farmer in Krugmia town, Voinjama District, Musa M. Kabbah, told this paper that they have embarked on the cultivation of 1.7 hectares of lowland with support from USAID-FED.He said the purpose of the project is to empower the members in order to support their families.“In 2010, we stated this project in our community with 17 females and 15 males. Last year, we were fortunate to get support from FED to grow rice harvesting 20 bags of seed rice,” he said. But this year, we are determined to cultivate the entire field,” he added.Betijama town is one of the towns in Lofa, that the project supports livestock farmers.According to Mustapha L. McCarthy, FED’s Lofa County livestock officer, more than hundred persons are engaged into the rearing of small ruminant (goats, sheep) to earn income.He told our reporter that 10 lead farmers from several communities in Foyah and Voinjama were trained last year on animal health care and intensive management.He said that the intention of the training was to make goat farmers graduate from the traditional method of livestock farming to commercial animal breeding.One of the beneficiaries of the livestock project in Betijama town, Massaquoi Morlu, said the number of goats raised by their group has increased from 50 to 78 goats.Morlu said before the coming in of USAID-FED their animals were left to wander by themselves.“We have acquired knowledge on how to raise the animal in the proper manner. This has enabled us to get money to improve our living conditions,” he said.He, however, said that the marketing of their animals was something that needed some improvement.“We do not have as many buyers to purchase the animals,” he mentioned. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)