For many of the youth living in and around Upton District, St Ann, the Sandals Golf and Country Club provides a playground of opportunity with its junior golf programme. Catering to children as young as five years, the long-running golf project, part of the community outreach for the hotel resort chain, is enabling talent for the sport and bigger things. “It teaches them golf and life skills,” Miguel Arthurs, general manager, Sandals Golf and Country Club, explained. “Discipline, sportsmanship, honesty, provides tutors for academics, mentors,” he continued, outlining benefits of the programme that is coordinated from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Saturdays. Through training, the participants develop their game to a high standard, with many moving on to represent both Jamaica’s junior and senior golf teams. In fact, the current Caribbean Amateur Golf Championship winner, Romaine Evans, developed in the programme, as well as Wesley Brown, who has graduated onto the United States Professional circuit. It even provides opportunities for a higher education, through golfing scholarships. “We’ve people who joined the programme not thinking they’d have gone on to college,” exclaimed Arthurs. “It’s opening doors where they didn’t exist. “That’s teaching a man how to fish,” he continued. “In a word, that sort of experience is priceless.” The programme is funded by the Sandals Foundation, plus proceeds from events such as the recent series of Travel Industry Golf competitions, which culminated with the 21st staging of the Baxter’s Golf Tournament. During these events there are contests such as the Closest to the Pin, Longest Drive and Putting and Chipping. Participants pay to enter and those monies are funnelled into the golf club’s junior programme. “It’s the only way to secure the program and continue the development of the youth,” said Arthurs. Expanding on the positives, he pointed to tournaments held at the club that involve members of the programme and noted the effect it had in bringing out family and friends. “Families, friends come out to the tournaments, so you’re creating a ripple effect … That’s where you’re making a real change, when you can change the psyche (mindset) of a person that is priceless. That person can change the thought process of others as well,” Arthurs reasoned. “It’s a game of discipline and sportsmanship … and you’re seeing tangible results. If you’re not seeing tangible change then it’s pointless. There’s the community effect and it’s building families,” he added. “The junior golf program has rekindled my faith about what is possible when you invest in young people.”
Diamond-Ogle bypass roadThe much-anticipated bypass road linking the East Bank Demerara corridor to its East Coast counterpart is well underway.Civil works have commenced, according to Head of the Public Infrastructure Ministry’s Works Services Group (WSG), Geoffrey Vaughn, who has said engineers from the India-based consultancy firm RITES Limited have already started preparatory works.In an interview with Guyana Times, Vaughn explained that consultants from the company arrived in Guyana about two weeks ago, and have since been holding meetings with stakeholders and looking at the alignment before redesigning the project.“Remember, this project was initially a (Ministry of) Housing project and they would have done (the design) based on the housing sector. You’re now looking at it as a major carriageway, so it’s obvious that the consultants would have to review all of that. The design criteria will be different, so that’s what the Indian contractors would be doing, as well as re-looking at the alignment which we have done,” he noted.Vaughn said the Indian consultants and the MPI engineering team have commenced surveying works, and have done a walk-through of the area (backlands) through which the road will be cut.Vaughn noted that there is a buzz of excitement about this project since it would provide a much-needed alternative than travelling through the usually congested Georgetown.Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson revealed early last week, during a local radio programme, that the bypass road would also be connected to key communities in Georgetown and along the East Bank of Demerara.“We (will) have connections, starting at South Ruimveldt and North Ruimveldt; the next one would be at Houston, the third would be at Mocha, and then all the way up to Diamond. So those five villages or wards will connect directly to (the bypass road) and the first phase will carry you all the way up to Diamond/Grove. So therefore persons can have an alternative coming in,” Patterson noted.The Public Infrastructure Minister went on to say that Government is also looking at extending the bypass road from Diamond all the way up to the Linden/Soesdyke Highway, but that would be at some time in the future. He said preparations to have a feasibility study done have already started.Back in 2016, Finance Minister Winston Jordan signed a US$50 million loan with the Export-Import (EXIM) Bank of India for the construction of a 20 kilometre road from Ogle, on the East Coast of Demerara, to Diamond, on the East Bank of Demerara.Since the Indian Government is funding the project, it is required that the contracts be awarded to companies from that country. As such, RITES Limited was selected to conduct the study and design the bypass road.The feasibility study is expected to last for a period of between 10 months and one year, after which works will commence on hiring a contractor for the construction phase.However, during an interview earlier this year, Minister Jordan had told Guyana Times that he does not foresee this project being fully completed before 2020.In an effort to reduce traffic congestion for commuters on the East Bank of Demerara, which leads to the country’s main port of entry – the Cheddi Jagan International Airport — the previous People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) regime had been working on constructing an ‘East Coast to East Bank’ bypass road, and had sought funding from the Indian Government in 2015.The following year, after there was change in the administration of Government, Minister Jordan had signed off on the loan.