The $20M Timber Walkway constructed in Wakapau, an Indigenous village in the Pomeroon-Supanaam, Region 2 was officially commissioned today.
The new 1,284-foot wooden bridge is equipped with steel rails along with solar lights and three huts in case of rain. It links Myrie and Borada, two of 40 Islands in Wakapau.
Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson and Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Sydney Allicock and Region Two, Regional Chairman, Dennis Jaikran were present at the commissioning ceremony.
Minister Patterson explained that the project was initiated after numerous unanswered appeals to have the structure repaired, the residents resorted to making putting their case on social media. Also, the hardship they endured traversing the makeshift bridge along a treacherous path was also highlighted at the National Toshao’ Council (NTC) in July 2018.
“You need to commend your Toshao, he is the one who represented you at the NTC. He said you have been calling for years for a walkway and nobody has been listening to you,” Minister Patterson said adding “… this was July, and immediately I said to him, we will build a bridge and told him to return to his community and tell the residents that we will be doing the project with full community participation and involvement.”
Today, Minister Patterson said, the coalition government delivered on that promise made to residents eight months ago.
A total of $5Million worth of timber was purchased from the community. The minister explained that of the $20M allocated to the project, only $16M was spent on the bridge itself. Minister Patterson said the remaining sum will be utilised for another small project; the residents have already signalled that the school’s walkway needs urgent attention.
“Not only are we giving you a walkway but some of the money was given back to the village and this is a model we will use going forward,” he said.Regarding the current political situation in the country, Minister Patters noted “… persons will descend on your village…and they will tell you all that is not good in your country… they will tell you that it is because of elections we are doing these things. But the only motive we have to ensure that everyone enjoys a better standard of living.”
Meantime, Minister Allicock spoke of the transformation that has happened over the past three and a half years, especially in the hinterland. Some of the major achievements being the establishment of four new Capital Towns in Mabaruma, Mahdia, Bartica and Lethem.
He reminded the people of the government’s commitment to bridge the gap between the coastland and the hinterland, and the construction of the bridge is a manifestation of that commitment.
“This bridge here is yours, own it, protect it, care it,” Minister Allicock told the residents.
Spoking of the importance of partnership for community development,
Regional Executive Officer (REO), Denis Jaikran said “Let us continue to work together and support each other and continue to build.”
The REO commended the residents who were very vocal about the need for the bridge, and the role they played in its construction. He pledged the region’s continued support to the village.
This year, the government has allocated funds for an extension to the Wakapau Secondary School along with sanitary blocks. Repairs will also be done on the Primary School, while solar systems will be installed at the health centre and living quarters.
The village also received the sum of $2M from the Indigenous Affairs Ministry to construct a block making factory.
Images: Keno George
1704- Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson and Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Sydney Allicock and Regional Chairman, Dennis Jaikran and Toshao of Wakapau, Howard Cornelius at the ceremonial cutting of the ribbon to commission the bridge
1726- The Wakapau Bridge
1357- Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson and Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Sydney Allicock and Regional Chairman, Dennis Jaikran and Toshao of Wakapau, Howard Cornelius
1494- Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson and Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Sydney Allicock interacting with a resident of Wakapau