Nov 08, 2017  Features / ColumnistsFreddie Kissoon

I walk my dog on the Eve Leary/ Camp Road beach every morning, and each day, without exception. When I reach a certain section, my mind wanders and I wonder about the David Granger/Moses Nagamootoo Government. Before I elaborate on that psychology, there is a passing note on child labour on the beach.
Every morning, two little boys are on the beach with their rakes and baskets cleaning from the bandstand to the CID office. These boys should be in school. Their task is a Sisyphean one. The next day, I see the same kind of stuff they were picking up the day before. But more than that; they cannot clean that amount of garbage by themselves. These kids have to be between 14 and fifteen. They are cleaning everything in sight on the beach, debris; dried leaves; all types of bottles; the remains from the Hindu religious ceremonies etc.
Last Friday morning, I asked them if they are employed by the City Council or the Ministry of Public Infrastructure. The answer was no. They told me a man pays them. Who is this guy and why are these two boys doing an impossible job every morning on the beach? I pass them each day as I head east and I am baffled at exactly how much they can accomplish by themselves.
About twenty yards east of Camp Road, on the parapet of the seawall road, there is a long stretch of vendors’ paraphernalia consisting mostly of old fridges and wooden makeshift structures. These are the vendors that ply their trade from the afternoon hours until the seawall gets scary in the night time.
freddie-kissoon-300x273It is interesting to note that most of the operators leave someone to watch their respective units in the morning hours because the closed shops have their products that they sell. This is Guyana’s poor, trying to make a living. They are never there in the morning hours so there is no one to talk to except the person who is ‘keeping an eye.”
Saturday afternoon was an exception for me. I went back with my dog. The weekend time brings out lots of people on the wall between Eve Leary and the Kitty pump station. I even ran into my cousin William Cox and his wife. They saw my dog for the first time. And for the first time, I got to chat with the seawall vendors.
Many of them are single parents. Without exception, a majority of them depend on those sales to earn a living. I was a bit touched at the sight of three of them who did not get any patronage for the afternoon even though the wall was overflowing with people.
Why in Heaven’s name, the state in a poor Third World country would want to take away the tiny income of these people? This is the thought that goes through my mind each morning when I pass these make-shift structures. I know what poverty is. I hear people talk about the deprivation they grow up with but my boyhood days in Wortmanville would bring tears to your eyes. Why would any municipality, NDC, ministry want to remove these people?
I was on the very beach on Monday with my dog, saw the two little boys as usual and saw as usual the old fridges but I also saw something the day before – the speech of our president to the North American chapter of his party, the PNC in the United States (I will go to my grave and never understand why sane Guyanese want to be in an Indian dominated party or an African dominated party but maybe I am the insane one).
Mr. Granger waxed lyrical about his party being an entity of the working people. I don’t know if some Freudian guilt was driving him but he was in rock star mode as he spoke about the need for the PNC to protect the poorer classes in Guyana. He even came out swinging against elitism (his word).
I was not impressed because I am on the beach everyday and I see how important the little income is to vendors. Yet more than a hundred of them were removed from the Stabroek Market Square so the rally to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of Independence could move off from there.
I am entitled to my opinion and I hold the view that the Granger/Nagamootoo regime has failed the poorer classes of my country and is no friend of the poorer classes of Guyana. Guyana has an anti-working class government and I make no apologies for writing this.