Lands at Diamond, Houston or Ogle touted for Amerindians

NTC to get Sophia land, plus larger tract for benabs, dorms & conference rooms

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The National Toshaos Council (NTC) will be receiving the land at Sophia, Greater Georgetown as initially promised by President David Granger as well as a larger tract of land from the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) for the construction of conference rooms and dormitories.

The clarification was made by the Ministry of the Presidency in a statement Wednesday which noted that President Granger earlier in the day met with the newly elected Chairman and Executive members of the NTC at the Baridi Benab, State House.

The NTC will be receiving the lease for the originally promised land in the Sophia Exhibition Centre from the Guyana Lands and Survey Commission (GL&SC) for the construction of their secretariat.

But President Granger said his vision for the country’s indigenous peoples is bigger and as such, he wants to give them a larger parcel of land as well.

According to the MotP statement, the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs will be working with the NTC to “identify a larger plot of land for the establishment of a complex that will include dormitories to accommodate Toshaos, conference rooms and other facilities, as envisioned by the Head of State”.

President Granger is quoted as saying: “We want you to have a campus with conference rooms, with accommodation, with benabs, and places where you could relax. We want to give you what Indigenous people deserve, so our plans are grand and we do not want to limit you to that spot and we intend to deliver on our promise.”

GL&SC Commissioner, Trevor Benn said that the Commission is looking at three possible locations at which the complex can be built; Diamond and Houston on the East Bank of Demerara and Ogle on the East Coast.

President David Granger, the NTC and other officials

“I know everybody want to be in the City but the City can only hold so many people and you can only do so much. The Sophia Exhibition Complex is held under lease by the Ministry of Business and of course, you are limited to what you can do there…,” he is quoted as saying.

The 20-member body is now chaired by the Toshao of Shulinab Village, Nicholas Fredericks and include Paul Pierre as Vice-Chair, Toshao Russian Dorrick as Secretary, Toshao Marbel Thomas as Treasurer and 16 other executive members from the various regions.

President Granger urged the leaders to keep an open door for dialogue and collaboration to take place, especially with the regional administrations, the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs and Central Government.

“It is only by working together with the Region and the Central Government that we could relieve the Indigenous people of poverty, of poor education, of poor infrastructure,” he said in the statement.

The Head of State also assured the NTC executives that the Government will work toward increasing the Council’s subvention; noting that July is the start of the new budget cycle.

Meanwhile, the Toshaos expressed their willingness to work hand in hand with the Central Government and the relevant authorities to advance their work programme. The new Chairman said that while at times, they might not see eye to eye with Government, they are committed to meaningful dialogue and consultations.

Minister of State, Joseph Harmon; Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Sydney Allicock; Minister within the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Valerie Garrido-Lowe and Minister of Social Cohesion, George Norton were also present at the meeting.

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