Buxton residents not going down Linden road
GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Monday, August 20, 2012 – Even as the government was reporting over the weekend that the volatile protest situation in the mining village of Linden had been brought under control, street protest was being fermented in Buxton village.
However, from news accounts, the protest reached nowhere near the scale intended. Reports in the Kaiteur News indicate that while the action was meant to block the main thoroughfare at Buxton on the East Coast of Demerara, by around 7 am only 15 people, including Working People’s Alliance executive members Desmond Trotman and Dr David Hinds, turned out.
The few protestors, armed with placards proclaiming support for the Linden protest, were responding to calls made at a public meeting in Buxton last week for a major public protest. However, after two hours of trying to draw passersby to their cause, including venturing into traffic to solicit support from the driving public, the protestors called it quits.
Meanwhile, in volatile Linden, an uneasy truce has been called and a state of normalcy has begun to return since the Joint Services cleared the thoroughfares from blockades planted by protestors who were violently opposed to a new electricity tariff. Attempts to impose the tariff were postponed after the protest escalated into a month-long open confrontation between villagers and police in which three protestors were killed and several buildings razed, including a primary school.
With the situation now defused, the way was also paved for a visit to Linden last Thursday (August 16) by President Donald Ramotar, who met face-to-face with residents and other stakeholders for talks.
Travelling with a small entourage that included public works minister Robeson Benn, presidential adviser on governance Gail Teixeira and community development adviser Odinga Lumumba, the president engaged residents who sought answers about the new electricity tariff hike, consultation with the opposition and the economic state of Linden.
Residents of the One Mile area waited in their numbers, some with placards, seeking answers about the commission of inquiry into the death of the three protestors, they also demanded more television stations in Linden, and for an advance in the work of the technical committee set up to review the new tariff structure.
Ramotar expressed remorse on his personal behalf and on behalf of the government for the shooting incidents, even as an emotional Dion Warrick demanded justice and bemoaned the fact that the head of state’s visit could not have been much earlier.
The visit was scheduled for July 28 but had to be postponed after protestors defied orders by the Joint Services for calm and efforts to clear the thoroughfare of logs, and other objects used as blockades.
“I made an attempt to come to Linden on July 28 and that was used as an occasion to mobilise and rile people up, block and set fires on the road and, I thought that I didn’t want my visit to be used as an occasion to have anyone getting hurt and for those who seem to have taken over the protest, to use it in a negative way,” Ramotar said.
The president’s team explained the rationale for the progressive adjustment to the electricity tariff, maintaining the argument that subsidising electricity tariff in Linden is unsustainable in a town that is rapidly developing.
“Because the charge was so small, there was no incentive for conservation and actually you will see that the average consumption of electricity in the community compared to the rest of the country is about three times as much per household, so if we had conservation methods being used, we can cut down on the amount of electricity that is actually consumed,” Ramotar said.
Ramotar told the media he was satisfied with the restoration efforts and, expressed the hope that the situation would “get better as the days go by.”