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On Thursday last, Minister of Amerindian Affairs, Ms. Carolyn Rodrigues commissioned a $4M solar-powered electricity supply system in Bethany, an Amerindian community in Region Two (Pomeroon/Supenaam).
Just two weeks ago another power supply system was commissioned in Moraikobai, Region Five (Mahaica/Berbice).
The system, which was funded by the Social Impact Amelioration Programme (SIMAP), will supply regular electrical energy to the Bethany Community Centre, the Primary/Nursery School, and the Health Centre, among other community buildings.
Minister Rodrigues commended the partnership effort utilised by the community in the execution of the solar energy system and other community projects, including the Bethany main road, two bridges and a boat shed.
All the projects were commissioned by the Minister who was on a one-day visit to the community.
“The Government of Guyana has very little resources to work with and we would never be in a position to do everything,” she said, “… so we need partnership and community participation,” she noted
Executive Director of SIMAP, Mr. Harrynarine Nawbatt implored residents to make the best use of the facility and also, to ensure that “developmental works done are sustained in a proper manner so that they serve the best purposes.”
He said the Institute of Allied Sciences and Technology (IAST) was commissioned by SIMAP to install the solar panels and the electrical fittings that go along with it. The panels have an estimated life-span of five years, after which they may need to be replaced.
Bethany residents contributed to the project by providing security for the construction materials and labour for mounting the solar panels. SIMAP assisted with training of the residents to ensure proper maintenance of the panels.
The community’s contribution to the road project amounted to over $300, 000 with the Village Council providing $250, 000 and Pastor Oliver Subryan, an overseas-based Guyanese contributing US$1100.
Pastor Subryan’s wife was born in Bethany.
The road project was initiated in 1998 and encountered several setbacks. The following year, the school’s Parent Teachers Association (PTA) chipped in but the project still was not completed.
Pastor Sybryan made his contribution following a visit to the community during which time he saw the urgent need for a proper road.
Work on the road entailed fetching of white sand to the site and gathering of wood and logs from the backlands, which was facilitated by villagers along with help from Youth Challenge International (YCI.
In addition, the residents constructed a boat shed to accommodate persons who have to await transportation out of Bethany.
Bethany Village which has a population of approximately 300 people is located some 15 miles up the Supenaam Creek and can only be accessed by boat from the Supenaam stelling.
The Government meanwhile has begun to look at alternative means of energy supply since the cost of fuel is becoming increasingly expensive.
To this end, the Guyana Energy Agency (GEA) is conducting a feasibility study on renewable energy. Maybe in a few years time, this system if viable, may be used to boost power in hinterland and coastal communities, GEA official, Mr. Terrence O’Brien explained (GOVERNMENT INFORMATION AGENCY)