GUYANA: National Disasters — By Mosa Telford


Disaster and crisis have always been common in Guyana. In our moments of calm, whether consciously or subconsciously, we are in a state of constant preparedness for the next chapter in our book of trials and errors. As we turn the pages, we often can detach from the action.

Allowing ourselves to be penetrated by every mark of the crisis can have devastating effects on our wellbeing; and so, these coping mechanisms of surviving in Guyana can make us hollow. We can silently watch disasters and never utter a word. We can comfortably turn a blind eye to the suffering of our fellow Guyanese. We can put our stamp of approval and make excuses for corruption when we believe we are the beneficiaries and still dare to wave a moral compass.       

The recent chapters involving the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, the floods and the rising cost of living are concerning.

It has been revealed that the government has been paying double the price for the Sputnik V vaccines and not buying directly from Russia but from Sheik Ahmed Dalmook Al Maktoum of the United Arab Emirates.

The Sputnik V vaccine has not been listed as one approved by the WHO, unlike the AstraZeneca vaccine and Sinopharm, which have also been approved for use in Guyana.

Reuters has reported that Russia was still waiting for approval and that approval was expected in two months. A recent report indicated that there was further delay in approving the vaccine because Russia failed to provide clinical data that was supposed to be submitted on June 10th. Approval now may be given until September or closer to the end of the year.

How can we be comfortable injecting our people with vaccines not approved by the WHO? Shouldn’t we worry about the possible effects it could have on people’s health? There are those who are treating the concerns as inconsequential, while justifying these actions by saying at least we have vaccines. Shouldn’t we demand the best for our citizens? I understand the nature of COVID and the fact that Guyanese are still becoming ill and dying every day. I understand the desire to protect the general population and flatten the curve.

We all wish for life to return to somewhat of a norm, but the health and safety of the Guyanese people should be foremost. This is a time when the only focus should be on the health of the Guyanese people and not scoring political points. If we do not demand transparency and the best for the Guyanese people, who will suffer the consequences? Whether one is supportive of the decisions the government made to secure vaccines or not, this should concern us all. Concerns about the health and safety of the Guyanese people should not be politicized.

And still, we are grappling with the floods…

A national disaster has been declared because of the floods in all regions. But the national disaster here we know is not just about the floods. The national disaster is also about the survival of the Guyanese people. The national disaster is also because there are people in this country who are so loyal to the political parties, that common sense often seems uncommon.

After several weeks of the land being inundated in many parts of the country, Guyanese are still wading in troubled waters. The flooding has caused a rise in the cost of vegetables especially. The general rise in the cost of food and other items has been attributed to overseas manufacturers, but most of the Guyanese people have not been offered any raises in their wages and salaries and are still expected to live through this crisis and not complain. While people have been encouraged to be vaccinated to curb the spread of COVID, where are the proposals for ensuring that people do not starve to death? If people’s immune systems are weakened because they are starving, the threat of disease is still a threat, whether they are vaccinated or not. Here, the people are expected to wear poverty as badge of honour. It is nonsense. It is not the way we are meant to live.

A parliamentarian revealed on social media this week that members of parliament receive a little more than US$1200 a month. Yes, I agree that that is not good enough, but there are also qualified Guyanese who are being offered salaries of less than US$500 a month. US$1200 a month is what I believe the minimum wage should be. But it seems paying Guyanese living wages is an impossibility. People must scrape and scramble for their basic survival while some of the vilest humans in our country sit in their homes, filling their stomachs and watching videos of the flood.

Before a national disaster was declared, Speaker of the National Assembly thought the floods were not an urgent matter when an opposition member of parliament asked that parliament be adjourned to discuss it. Houses being covered in certain parts of our country and water being on the land for weeks were apparently not urgent. That is how disconnected and nonchalant some of the people in positions of power are to the suffering of the Guyanese people. The approval by the sheeple here for corruption and dishonesty is a national disaster. Absorbing every misstep we make in this country and how callous some of the people are is to remain in a constant state of fear, anger and distress.

With heavy rainfall expected until August, the threat of water borne diseases, the effect on agriculture and the desperation of the people should concern us all.  I have seen citizens waiting for flood-relief parcels to keep hope in their stomachs. These are citizens of oil rich Guyana. Just like that we are seeing the evidence that the oil curse is upon us. But there is still hope for Guyanese people, right? Maybe the billions of barrels of the oil discovered so far will wash away all our problems and we will all live happily ever after and ‘One Guyana’ would not just be a myth.

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  • the only  On 06/20/2021 at 9:16 pm

    Rum is not approved by WHO but i still sell it here in Albouystown from my bottom house.

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