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…after protest over deplorable access road, school conditionsDisgust and frustration over the state of the access road linking Port Kaituma to Matthews Ridge in Region One (Barima-Waini) and unacceptable condition at the Port Kaituma School translated to protest action on Monday last.The move was characterized by parents removing their children from the Port Kaituma Primary School and a decision being taken by teachers to close the school. Some parents accompanied by children took to the thoroughfare with placards outlining concerns such as “we want better roads” and “how much longer must we suffer.”Among the concerns raised, too, is that with the rainy season, the road has deteriorated to an impassable state even to pedestrians and the school term had commenced without intervention from Government.Some of the students after being taken out of school on Monday lastTwo Sundays ago this newspaper published a photograph of the road highlighting that drivers utilizing it were concerned about its state. It was revealed to this publication that the condition had moved from bad to worse in a matter of months with nothing remedial being done.Reports are that some amount of money was allocated to rehabilitate the road,Wholesale Stitched Jerseys, but to date nothing has been initiated. According to one driver who frequents the road, the only rehabilitation that was done during the course of last year was the patching of a few holes. He maintained that nothing further was done leaving the road to further deteriorate, effectively hampering his and other drivers’ livelihoods.Accessing the approximately 30-mile long loam road comes at a toll of $5,000 to buses and land cruisers, $12,cheap jerseys cc,000 for trucks and $75,Jerseys NFL Cheap,000 for excavators and these vehicles usually become stuck for several hours until assistance comes along.Given the deplorable state of the road, drivers had earlier this month planned to blockade the thoroughfare,NFL Jerseys Authentic China, but were advised by law enforcement officials to refrain from such action. However, they had issued an appeal for the relevant authorities to address the state of the access road.The road has since become an even greater concern and a growing challenge to access, especially for students who are forced to trek its slushy surface to get to school,Cheap NFL Jerseys, creating an alarming insanitary condition.  It was against this background that the protest action was orchestrated by the road users including teachers, parents and drivers who utilize the roadway.Minister of Public Works Robeson Benn in an invited comment Monday said that while he is not aware of the condition of the road or the dilemma faced by the residents who access it, he intends to investigate their concerns.“What I do know is that there has been a lot of rainfall recently and they have been using the road and we have been losing portions of it as a result. I am personally not aware of the situation, but I will ask my people to look into it,” the Minister said.A subsequent statement issued by Minister within the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development, Norman Whittaker, through the Government Information Agency (GINA), described the involvement of the school population in the protest action as “surprising in light of the fact that redress to the situation was imminent.”According to Whittaker, a team comprising Regional Executive Officer (REO), Nigel Fisher, Assistant Regional Executive Officer, (AREO) and Deon Seecharran, Senior Superintendent of Works Cy Rodrigues, had just last week Thursday visited the  Port Kaituma Primary and other nearby schools and carried out a conditional survey of the school buildings and surroundings.With regards to Port Kaituma Primary, the visit allowed the team the opportunity to update the newly appointed Headmistress (HM), Sharon Murray, of the plans for assisting the school with regards to its infrastructure under the region’s 2012 budget. The meeting also allowed the team to hear from the HM some of the issues concerning the school.Some of the issues discussed were overcrowding, furniture shortage, the sanitary conditions and insufficient water storage capacity, Whittaker said. The meetings also saw consensus on the solution to the problems and it was decided that as soon as the region receives its full support of desks and benches for the New Year, that 40 pairs would be given to the school to address the furniture shortage.An extension to the school, an annex, was proposed to house approximately 80 students while it was agreed that the sanitary blocks and other main programmes will be done under the 2012 education budget.Whittaker said that it then came as a surprise that the same Headmistress that met with the team and agreed to the conditions was the following day (January 15) present at a Community Teacher Association (CTA) meeting where the decision was taken to protest against the same issues that were on the roster to be resolved.Whittaker said that according to reports, some of the teachers, parents and students of the schools, took the protest action Monday and that apparently one of the parents took the decision to secure the gate to the school with a huge padlock and that it was only later in the afternoon that the teachers were allowed to return to the school following the intervention by the DEO and the AREO accompanied by a police.He said that “by the time the intervention had been made, most of the students had long gone home.”Minister Whittaker noted that given the fact that the HM was granted the opportunity to ventilate her concerns at the forum with the team comprising the REO, her conduct with regards to the protest action was unprofessional.“The visit by the senior officials allowed for certain commitments to be made with regards to the issues,” Whittaker said, even as he noted that “if the HM felt that these commitments were inadequate she was provided the forum to address these concerns.”Similarly, the behaviour of the teachers involved in the protest was irresponsible, he added, “as they allowed themselves to be misled even as the issues were being addressed.”However, residents yesterday told this newspaper that while concerns about the school were ventilated Monday, the main focus of the protest action was the deplorable access road which no one in authority seems to be addressing, despite numerous complaints.
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