When a government can prolong intensity of effort on a specific purpose, then the eventuality is ease of life for people and profit for the nation.
This is really a good summation of the Community Roads Improvement Programme (CRIP).
During the period 2011 to 2014, over 79,000 residents in Regions Three, Four, Five and Six benefited from improved roads via this massive governmental investment.
The fact that some 260 roads were constructed, spells growth, possible because the Government’s interest and vision were picked up by the 12 accompanying Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs) of these regions.
According to Irfaan Ali, Minister of Housing and Water, “CRIP was a programme conceptualised by Government, to develop communities within 12 NDCs across Guyana...
This programme was designed to bring an engagement directly from the people of the various communities…Indeed this investment of almost US$19M has seen the improvement of the lives of many persons across Guyana.”
CRIP rehabilitated Enterprise Sideline dam in Buxton
With support from a loan and grant from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), the Government of Guyana, through the Ministry of Housing and Water, was able to successfully implement the project.
Now, residents are having easier access to and from markets, schools, health centres, and social and economic facilities.
The NDCs that benefited from improved infrastructure and institutional strengthening through this joint initiative are: Best Klien/Pouderoyen; Stewartville/Cornelia Ida; Tuschen/Uitvlugt; Rosignol/Zeelust; Bath/Woodley Park; Port Mourant/John; Mon Repos/La Reconnaissance; Industry/Plaisance; Unity Vereeniging; Enmore/Hope; Haslington/Grove; and Golden Grove/ Diamond Place.
CRIP has been instrumental in upgrading these 260 community roads, and this kind of work must be contextualised.
It was not just a mere fixing up; it was at some places starting with mud dams, before getting to the finished Double Bituminous Surface Treatment (DBST) or asphaltic concrete surface.
This actually marked the first time some residents had access to ‘real’ roads.
According to Savitri Gopaul, Overseer of Stewartville/Cornelia Ida NDC, “CRIP has helped us tremendously through the construction and rehabilitation of roads…we have experienced an increase in the number of residents paying their taxes and a significant reduction of complaints from residents about potholes.”
Children enjoying the afternoon sun while on one of the newly completed Pouderoyen, West Bank Demerara district roads
“Our residents are now having better access to healthcare…before, if persons had gotten sick in the nights, they had to wait until morning to come out, because taxis had refused to drive through the bad roads,” she added.
Couched in Ms. Gopaul’s observation is a most important and profound truth, that is, the paying of taxis and honouring of citizens’ obligation are natural spin-offs from benefits, when investment redounds into a more commodious environment.
According to , life for the beneficiaries of the CRIP venture is not at a level where patriotism, purpose and peace are most overt.
Another positive, highlighted by Gopaul, is the opening up of more small businesses within the communities, where the roads were upgraded.
Ms.Ingrid, a shopkeeper, said that previously, trucks or vans, carrying cargo used to refuse to travel the deplorable roads.
Persons wanting to stock their businesses also had to go out to the main roads to make their purchases, she added. In other words, it was totally frustrating.
Expressing her satisfaction, she said the situation has now changed, as trucks and other large and heavy vehicles are transporting items to any place of business.
Meanwhile similar benefits came to Haslington/Grove NDC, situated on the East Coast Demerara, Region Four.
Marva Simon, the Overseer there, noted that residents, especially those who own vehicles, are extremely pleased with the rehabilitation of the roads.
She emphasised that traversing around is now smooth, and travel time has reduced significantly.
A resident of No 64 Village, Region 6 making her way through a street in the pouring rain with ease, something she couldn't have done a few years ago.
Owing to the successful implementation of CRIP, Government expanded its local component of the project, to benefit additional NDCs in 2014: Nouvelle Flanders/La Jalousie, Region Three; No.52/74, Region Six; and Buxton Foulis, Region Four.
In Nouvelle Flanders/La Jalousie, NDC, CRIP expended $41.M to rehabilitate Mandir Street in Windsor Forest, and Gapp Road in La Jalousie.
Asphaltic concrete surfaces have replaced huge potholes and in some sections mud dams.
While existing roads and sidelines were rehabilitated in No.64 Village in No.52/74 NDC district residents in Third Street are now benefiting from a newly constructed road.
CRIP has transformed Third Street from a mud dam to DBST structure. Pleased with the development, residents have vowed to protect the structure.
Enterprise Sideline in Buxton/Foulis NDC was upgraded from a DBTS to asphaltic concrete. This upgrade has facilitated easy access to and reduced travel time for residents of Enterprise and Non Pariel.
According to a motorcyclist, “playing dodge ball is the fitting description of how this road was before it repair…now I can ride my motorbike and don’t have to worry about riding in a pothole…I am happy the Ministry rehab this road...”
Students enjoying the comfort of the rehabilitated Stewartville road
The business of Golden Grove/Diamond Place NDC is now carried out in a brand new painted flat concrete building, constructed with funding from Government.
It replaced a derelict wooden building which was unsafe for occupancy.
Rehabilitation works such as the installation of lavatories, renovation of staircases and painting of the buildings, extension of buildings, rehabilitation of roofs, plumbing, and electrical works were executed on the 11 other NDC buildings.
According to Kushmawattee Saroopchand, Overseer of Rosignol/Zeelust NDC, CRIP has transformed the NDC Office into a spacious building, conducive for work and inviting to residents.
She recalled that, “The former building was a small old wooden structure; built in the 1970s…It was deplorable, standing on rotten wooden columns when CRIP stepped in…
We now have inside toilet and private office setting with a boardroom…we also got a computer and accessories.”
Capacity building and computerisation
Ali emphasised that CRIP not only improved roads, drainage and other infrastructural facilities including NDC buildings, but also strengthened the institutional capacity within NDCs to ensure that local governance be more efficient and reliable.
He added that the training administered is geared towards helping persons, who are tasked with executing local governance, both at the political and technical level, with the necessary skills to provide services that are second to none in the communities.
A total of 304 persons including NDC staff, councillors, and community representatives were trained in different areas such as Community Engagement, Customer Service, Information Technology, QuickBooks, Management and Administration, and service delivery.
Enhancement of Information Technology in NDCs was a major component of CRIP
Additionally, in an effort to improve management of information and service delivery, the enhancement of Information Technology, in the 12 NDCs was a major component.
Equipping the NDCs with the relevant equipment is a big step away from typewriters and manual record keeping.
From 2012 to date, CRIP has thus far installed computers and accessories, digital cameras and office equipment, totalling $19M.
This will enable staff to apply their theoretical knowledge into every day operations. It is envisaged that the use of such equipment, including printers, multipurpose copiers and data storage devices will contribute towards the provision of better services.
So it is about hard-core infrastructure where CRIP was initially focused, but then Government is far more than just this, where the people are concerned.
It is about more than necessities, and since its track record is so solid, the nation at large can anticipate that it will continue to deliver benefits to its citizens, towards the continued modernisation of Guyana, phase by phase and project after project.