…residents want collaboration in enhancing community
CHIEF Executive Officer (acting) of NICIL/SPU, Colvin Heath-London, recently wrapped up a “highly successful” visit to the Upper Demerara/Upper Berbice community.
According to a release from NICIL, the visit was part of Heath-London’s continued effort to closely monitor assets and properties of the agency.He deemed his recent visit to Kwakwani as highly successful and the body noted that it was part of the CEO’s move to forge a closer relationship with a number of the residents of Kwakwani through community-oriented projects and programmes.
Heath-London met and held discussions with several staff of NICIL who are based there.
During a meeting, he revealed to residents that his agency has taken the responsibility for the current rehabilitation work going on at the sports club, reinforcing his agency’s position that they will continue to forge collaborative relationships with residents.
He disclosed that during his visit he was able to better gauge the number of properties and buildings owned by NICIL/SPU while at the same time reviewing those that are being rented and or leased.
“This was a very important visit as it allows us at NICIL/SPU to know what is happening, thus being more effective in monitoring our assets and properties. We have recognized that a number of scammers continue to devise ways and remain in seeking to exploit unsuspecting persons. As such, we have been examining and visiting assets and properties that we have throughout Guyana. We have a significant number of properties and I have personally endeavored at visiting them all,” he said.
According to the release, Heath-London, in giving an assessment of his visit to Kwakwani, said that the discussion held there was very healthy and fruitful, noting that a number of ideas and suggestions were put forward by residents in an attempt to further develop and improve their community.
He said that NICIL/SPU is very committed to supporting communities, stressing that they intend to demonstrate its commitment to the communities through supporting a number of initiatives.
He stressed that with very limited opportunities available especially for youths within the community, they are seeking NICIL/SPU’s continued support to offset the enhancement and repairs of a number of important properties, thus being able to create a platform and or opportunities for residents.
Meanwhile, several residents expressed thanks and gratitude for the detailed visit of Heath-London noting that it augers well for the continued development of Kwakwani.
Regional Vice Chairman of Region Ten, Elroy Adolph, said that he was very impressed and pleased with the visit of Heath-London, noting with certainty that it will help in NICIL/SPU developing a closer and stronger relationship with residents.
Adolph, who hails from Kwakwani, urged the CEO to continue in this trend declaring that Kwakwani needs all the support and help that it can get so as to further enhance the community and ultimately its residents.
Adolph thanked Heath-London for his agency’s assistance and support in working on some projects, declaring that the NICIL/SPU CEO is an ‘action man’.
“More and more we are seeing that Mr. Colvin Heath-London is a man who gets things done and, more importantly, he finds solution, thus he is an action man as we are tired of talkers, as action is what residents look forward to and, therefore, as the Regional Vice Chairman and, more so a Kwakwani resident, I would like to express my sincere thanks and gratitude to him and his team,” Adolph said.
Adolph said he is pleased that NICIL/SPU has been visiting communities to better examine and assess its properties and assets, noting that there are a number of buildings in Kwakwani and many wonder who are the owners.
MONTHS after its massive upgrade, management is mulling expansion of the Watooka Guest House to meet the demands of a growing clientele.
Since its recommissioning, the facility has been experiencing a 100% occupancy rate and was forced to turn down potential guests during these periods.
Manager Rawle Dundas, said that serious consideration is being given to expansion to meet demand. Presently, the facility is having expansion effected to its riverside deck, which has been one of its well-received additions. “Based on the response we have gotten so far, we are already thinking about expanding, because we had a young lawyer from Georgetown who wanted to stay in Linden….we didn’t have space and she was not the only one,” Dundas said.
With Linden making tremendous strides in its tourism sector, Dundas posited that the guest house sees itself as being a major player in the future. “We see ourselves as the facilitators of the activation; we see ourselves as being able to afford opportunities to our young people, whether it be people who have craft or agricultural products available because we would want to use local things at ‘Watooka’,” he added.
The manager affirmed that “Watooka” is open to all and sundry and everyone can have a share, whether it is to earn, accommodation, dining, or touring the facility.
The Watooka Guest House is one of the oldest colonial buildings in Linden that served as a restaurant and guest house in the early 1900s. The massive upgrade included refurbishing of 13 suites, including the Presidential and Prime Ministerial Suites; purchasing of modern equipment, appliances and other amenities; expansion of sections of restaurants, such as the bar, installations of air-conditioning units, lights, WIFI system and cable TV; a complete kitchen makeover, landscaping and general maintenance of the lawns. The entire compound, which also boasts a pool, a decorative lawn and garden, has been extensively improved. The roof, windows, pool, fence and gate, among other things, were also modernised.
In addition to the new deck, other added amenities include a fully furnished annexe that comes with all modern amenities. This is located opposite the guest house. In an effort to boost its hospitality service, a plethora of new services are also now available. These include collaborating with tour agencies to ensure guests enjoy a full experience of Linden, a private lounge, a membership scheme, security escorts and transportation services, as well as catering for private, small and large events, among other things.
Opposite “Watooka” is a centennial park which features the old railway station with locomotive as walking draglines that were used in the earlier days of bauxite mining. These were also spruced up as part of the upgrading project.
The Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) is warning of an intended sale of certain assets belonging to the Skeldon estate by the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) Special Purpose Unit (NICIL-SPU).
Through newspaper advertisements announcing the sale, the union learnt of the sale of ‘unserviceable’ motor vehicles and motorcycles.
The union said it has raised concerns about previous sales of movable items from the sugar estates which appear to have been sold at “basement prices”.
The sugar union is arguing that the very assets could have been divested at superior prices.
The union is also unsure whether the sale prices resembled the valuation carried out on the assets.
Even on the scrap iron sales, the union holds the same view that higher prices could have been affixed, positing that one buyer who bought the assets from the Wales factory made a considerable profit.
The union is calling on the Government to ensure that the sale of the sugar assets is transparent and above reproach.
It said that it had observed in the state newspaper that an SPU officer disclosed that about 511 acres of former cane lands are now under rice cultivation.
That officer also, according to GAWU, said that one investor already has 116.7 acres of rice to harvest, and another rice farmer has 438 acres.
The union is questioning who the lands at Wales have been leased to, for what purpose, the lease fees, and whether obligations have been placed on leases to employ the former estate workers.
It posited that those workers should have been given the opportunity to express their want to secure some of the lands. It said no such opportunity was granted.
GAWU said that NICIL’s engagements in the sale of many assets owned by the state, including recent orders signed by Finance Minister, Winston Jordan, regarding land transfers to private individuals, is disheartening.
Four sugar estates- Skeldon, Rose Hall, Enmore and Wales- were closed over the past four years because of poor performance by the Coalition Government.
The NICIL/SPU has been attempting to find investors, but investors have been balking at the aging factories and current low world price for sugar.
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