Deputy Public Works Minister Claude Langley has disclosed that government is scouting for money for the maintenance of the Gbarnga to Voinjama road in Lofa County.Mr. Langley told a recent news conference that the road, which is currently in good shape despite the rainy season, needs to be maintained.The road was rehabilitated by Westwood Corporation, a Liberian firm.The Gbarnga to Voinjama Highway, according to several officials who recently traveled to Lofa with President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, is so far the best in rural Liberia.The road is better for the first time in the last four years, since the celebration of Liberia’s Independence in Lofa County in 2010.Some independent journalists who travelled with President Johnson-Sirleaf to Lofa recently, said motorbikes (pen-pen), taxis and buses are currently engaged in serious transportation business because of the good condition of the road.Some residents of the county told our reporter that since the civil conflict, this is the first time Lofa has experienced low transport fares. This, they noted, is because of the good road network in the county.Mr. Pewu Kollie, a resident of Zorzor, said prior to the rehabilitation of the road, commuters used to pay about L$4,500 per trip, “but now we are paying about L$3,000 from Voinjama to Monrovia.He described the drop in the transport fare as a great financial relief for the people of Lofa County and said “We want to thank the company for doing such a wonderful job.”“My brother, some companies will take the money and do a bad job, to the detriment of locals who have to face great difficulty traveling on bad roads, especially during the rainy season,” he said.Also speaking, Tenneh Baysah, a business woman in Voinjama, said “We used to travel with water, buckets, cook spoons and pots for cooking because we would spend more than a day on this road. But today it takes a few hours, not days or a week from Monrovia to Voinjama.”“Goods, especially vegetables and other perishable commodities, are no longer getting rotten as before due to the number of days we would spend on the road, businesswoman Baysah said.According to our reporter, instead of days or a week, it now takes a maximum of five hours from Voinjama to Gbarnga, depending on the type of vehicle.The volume of traffic along the route has increased significantly, thus boosting economic activities and reducing prices, our reporter said.However, Deputy Minister Langley has given the assurance that government will attract funding to keep the road intact.He attributed the deplorable road network in other parts of the country, especially in the southeast, to the lack of maintenance.According to him, the Ministry of Public Works lacks the necessary equipment to maintain roads across the country and was looking for funding to ensure that roads built or rehabilitated by contractors remain intact.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
…as parents’ concerns over absent teachers growTeachers across the nation once again participated in the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU) nationwide strike as they continue to demand a salary increase.The teachers who gathered in front the Education Ministry on Tuesday told reporters that they will remain on strike for as long as it takes for them to see improvement as they maintained that it is well overdue for teachers to receive increases. The last time teachers received multi-year increases end in 2015.Many of the striking teachers cited increased living expenses. “As time goes by, things are going up, buses fares already up and we to pay the bus fares and we can’t say we don’t have the money; we will be put out,” a Fifth Form teacher said.However, as the nationwide strike continues for a second day into the new school week, many parents of students attending public schools are growing concerned over reduced educative activities in classrooms.The Education Ministry has activated a contingency plan where it intends to take on about 400 trainee and recently graduated teachers of the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE) as substitutes in addition to retired teachers. Parents are however concerned about the level of teaching their children will benefit from since many of the CPCE teachers are inexperienced, with only some having exposure to the classroom environment.At some primary schools where several grades had no teachers, classes were merged as in the case of St Angela’s Primary where no fifth year teacher reportedly turned up for duties. Frank Jones who has two children attending the school said he cannot leave them at home since he has to work during the day. He told Guyana Times that both of their teachers did not turn up for work; something which he views as worrying.“It’s hard because I can’t leave my children at home or send to private schools when you have Government schools. The Government is supposed to see with the teachers because they can’t just come and teach without money; they have families and bills to pay just like us,” Jones said.Other parents who declined to be identified, made similar remarks as some opted to collect their children and take them home due to the absence of teachers. One man uplifted his granddaughter as she couldn’t get registered at St John’s College, being a late entrant.He said he hopes that good sense will prevail for all sides so that classes can be restored to normalcy. The strike initially started August 27 during the preparation period. Now that school has reopened, it’s unclear if the Education Ministry’s substitute arrangements will materialise.Moments before Junior Social Protection Minister Keith Scott pulled back his statements which deemed teachers “uncaring and selfish” for participating in industrial action, teachers who gathered in front of the Education Ministry rejected his comments for which the GTU demanded an apology.“I do not consider my actions [uncaring or inconsiderate] because it is three years now that the union was begging teachers to hold back [but] the teachers mandated this action… as much we are angry with our leaders, we know that they have a heart and we are hoping that before the end of the week, we can hear something fruitful,” a union member indicated.“To those who think we’re selfish and unreasonable; the teachers make daily sacrifices for the children, we care for the children,” a teacher said.Some protesters called on President David Granger to pay more heed to the concerns the teachers are raising. According to information obtained, many of the schools around the city and some of the surrounding areas were half-filled with teachers such as the case in Central High School, St Angela’s Primary, Cummings Lodge, Plaisance and Charlestown Secondary and St John’s College.Some teachers, who showed up, were not performing duties, while some classrooms were left unsupervised, as seen in an image Guyana Times obtained from a city school. Education officials have been going around reportedly making enquires on the absenteeism of teachers.Essequibo demonstrationMeanwhile, reports coming out of the Essequibo Coast revealed classes at Anna Regina Multilateral School, in Cotton Field, were affected as teachers downed tools in support of the protest action. Guyana Times understands that the keys of the school were handed over to the security at the main gate.As such, confusion reigned when parents who got wind of the occurrences, flocked the school’s gate in a bid to get their children out the school’s compound. However, they were reportedly denied entry by the security guards at the main gate and expressed frustration over their children’s safety.The parents and security got into heated arguments but the children were still locked in at that point. Some reports stated that a few of the Form One students who were attending school for the first time flocked the gate and some were almost in tears as they were prevented by security from exiting the compound.Later on, the acting Regional Education Officer (REO), Nicola Matthew was seen entering the school compound and when asked for a comment by a reporter, refused to offer one. The children were locked inside the school until their lunch break.Linden teachers turn out in large numbersIn the mining town of Linden, there was no letting up, as hundreds of teachers from across Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice) took to the streets and marched along Republic Avenue, Mackenzie. They eventually stopped at the region’s Department of Education where their loud chants were principally directed toward Education Minister Nicolette Henry.They said they will travel to Georgetown to continue the protest later this week. “Dem wuk we like a donkey and pay we like a junkie” and “No money no wuk” were some of the chants they repeated. Another meeting was held at the Lichas Hall where GTU General Secretary Coretta McDonald addressed the teachers, telling them they must stand up when they see wrongs occurring, especially regarding the “disrespect” being meted out to teachers.McDonald lamented over Minister Kieth Scott’s “selfish” teachers comment, berated Government’s “failed campaign promises” to teachers. She accused the Education Ministry of peddling misinformation that the GTU is demanding 40 per cent and without 40 per cent, they’re not prepared to work.“Lies. Let them understand, that a proposal is just what it is, a proposal. And a proposal says it is negotiable,” McDonald said. She also made it clear that teachers are united and will not adhere to instructions for fear of victimisation, as she accused the Minister of making an enemy out of the Union since the walk out in 2017.Meanwhile, Regional GTU General Council representative, Ferdinand McLeod made calls for a larger public meeting by Linden teachers.Demonstrations also continued in Region One (Barima-Waini), Eight (Potaro-Siparuni), and elsewhere on Tuesday. The Education Ministry announced at a Monday night press conference that 2500 volunteer teachers will be deployed to schools to assist in classrooms.