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mainly in the Mazaruni-Cuyuni arca. Recently successful experiments have been made with diving apparatus in the rivers.
Columbite and Tantalite, both valuable for the production of the hard steel of jet-engines, have been found in small quantities near the lower and middle Mazaruni, and are being worked tentatively.
Uranium in very small quantities has been found in the Kanukus.
The two-year Development Programme for the Colony provided nearly £187,500 for geological surveys to be made and geologists are making constant explorations of the Interior. Much information has been collected, but there are large areas of the Interior which have never been geologically explored because they lie far from even the most primitive routes of communication. Just as travellers in the forests of Central America could pass within a hundred yards of a buried Maya city without realizing its existence, so it is possible for geologists to overlook the presence of valuable deposits lying near at hand. Even so great a geologist as Sir John Harrison surveyed the goldfields of the North-West without coming across the vast ridge of manganese which now bears the name of its discoverer, Mr. P. F. P. Matthews.
The development of the Interior is closely bound up with the development of communications. At the moment all forms of overland transport are slow, expensive and difficult. The small town of Bartica, which lies at the point where the Mazaruni flows into the Essequibo, is the entrepôt for almost all overland communication with the Interior. A river-steamer service plies between Georgetown and Bartica, and from there small power-driven boats go up the Essequibo. Since the Mazaruni so soon becomes dangerous, for 120 miles a road cuts through the Bartica 'triangle' to Issano. It is an all-weather road made of logs laid cross-ways and impacted with earth. A lorry service goes to Issano twice a week. A weekly boat service leaves Issano for Tumereng, in the centre of the diamond area. It is a service privately owned by Mr. E. F. Correia and his brother, Mr. M. C. Correia, who dominate the diamond areas, and are colloquially described as having buttoned-up the whole Mazaruni. Certainly their jealously-guarded monopoly means
that any unwanted person in the area soon finds that success will never be his.
Indian trails form a network over most of the Interior, trails usually no more than a foot or two wide which have been trod for centuries, as the nomadic Amerindians moved to fresh hunting grounds, to their fields of cassava, or travelled to distant tribes with hammocks, feather headdresses or cassava graters for barter. The indications of most of these trails are so slight that an Indian guide is necessary if one is not to wander off into the bush. The Amerindians themselves use rivers as much as the trails. The small rivers of the deep Interior are often navigable for long stretches at a time, though none forms an uninterrupted link with the navigable stretches of the arterial rivers.
The nearest approach to a road into the Interior is the Cattle Trail which was opened in 1919, linking the northern Rupununi savannas with the estuary of the Berbice, a distance of some 200 miles. Cattle are driven along it for final slaughter on the Coast.
As I indicated in the first chapter of this book air travel and transport have revolutionized the possibilities of the Interior during the last two decades. It is possible that, as in Brazil, cheap air transport on a large scale will make trunk roads unnecessary. Within twenty years the life for the European in the Interior has been completely changed by the existence of regular air services. In the early 'thirties one was isolated for months at a stretch, but now food is brought in regularly to a score of points all over the Interior. Heavy machinery is flown up to mining operations, and Dakotas fly up daily to the Rupununi to collect meat which has been slaughtered at abattoirs on the airfields. Now that British Guiana Airways have finished their great pioneering period and been taken over by the Government there may be a period of expansion which will further the exploitation of the Interior.
There are no plans at the moment for opening up the Interior by the building of roads. There is one school of thought that believes that if roads are built and transport facilities are provided settlers from the Coast will go inland without trouble. The other school believes-and, I think, rightly--that the inland soils are by no means generally fertile, and that the
first road into the Interior will have to be built to run through or be adjacent to the areas of fertile land. A preliminary soilsurvey was made in 1954 and a full-scale survey was begun in 1955-it will take some years to complete. Any road would have to be laid according to the information produced by this survey. In the 1920's the Colony missed its chance to receive the gift of an Interior road. Henry Ford was at that time interested in the development of the Colony and he offered to build the road, asking only in return that Ford cars alone should be allowed on the road for twenty years. The scheme was rejected.
The soil survey is a development of great importance. The rapid reconnaissance for the survey was carried out by Messrs. Jones & Wright in the spring of 1954 and Mr. Wright followed this up with a further reconnaissance later in the year. He travelled goo miles by foot, river and jeep, from the Upper Mazaruni District into the southern Rupununi savannas. He returned convinced that there was 'an abundance of good land in the Interior', but that very little of it was suited to large-scale or estate development. He is in favour of farms of between 100 and 1,000 acres, but emphasizes that nothing can be done without roads. 'Have faith', he says in his preliminary report, ‘in what I, and many others, can see in the Interior and join this land to the markets of the coastlands and the world beyond
.. ROADS ARE ESSENTIAL.' The Government and the coastal Guianese become, intermittently, very interested in the possibilities of Interior development, and Mr. Wright's report was given much publicity in the local newspapers, which supported his plea for an immediate plan to build roads to give access to agricultural lands. There is clearly reason for Mr. Wright's optimism about the nature of the soil, but it seems to me that it would be foolish to begin a large-scale agricultural development of the Interior before the riverain lands near the coast
have been developed and exploited. Mr. Wright's report. is that of a natural optimist who throws out excellent-seeming ideas on a variety of matters; but he makes the development appear an easy matter and that, most people who know the Interior agree, can never be the case.
There is another important aspect to this agricultural development. In the past there have been schemes for settling European refugees in parts of British Guiana which are
sparsely inhabited. The new interest in the Interior may be part of an over-all scheme to provide more Lebensraum for the West Indies in general. Population pressures have already started a flow of immigrants to Britain from Jamaica, and the flow from the West Indies may increase in future. If the Interior of British Guiana can be truly opened up it will provide an alternative for the emigrants from the islands of the British Caribbean.
At the moment the population of the Interior-apart from the 19,000 Amerindians—is limited to a thousand or two Negroes, a few East Indians, a handful of Chinese storekeepers and traders, half-a-dozen European settlers in the Rupununi savannas, District Commissioners and Officers, and one or two settlements of people from the British Caribbean islands. Bartica is a small town (although it has village status) of 3,500 inhabitants, most of whom are Negro. In the Potaro river area of the Bartica-Issano road are some villages composed of 'Islanders', who live a simple agricultural life at little more than subsistence level. They appeared to me, however, to be remarkably happy and contented people. They have had land allocated to them and have cleared it of forest by hard work and determination. Issano is a village of Guianese Negroes, and most of its inhabitants are concerned with the business of the river transport rather than with agriculture. Some miles above Issano, on the Mazaruni, the diamond fields begin. The stores supplying the prospectors are run by Chinese and East Indians who have settled on the river and live in reasonable comfort. The prospectors are rarely men who have settled in the Interior; they come from Georgetown and return there regularly with money earned in the fields. Their centre is Tumereng, where there are two saloons and several brothels and not very much else. The girls of the brothels are all from the Coast, and they come up to the diamond fields to make quick money. Many return to the Coast but some stay on. When they grow too old and broken they move to the second centre, Kurupung, where their fading charms are accepted faute de mieux. Near Tumereng there is another Islander settlement composed of people from St. Lucia, who have named their village Castries, after the capital of their home-island. Here again they live at a subsistence level, and cannot afford to buy goods at the mining