UPA (Utanian Press Agency)
Release: March 8, 301 AP.

President visits Chiquiti homeland

President Okarvits visited Chiquiti City today to inspect the excellent progress the international aid effort had made to the people and city.

President Okarvits was accompanied by no less than nine MPs, including three Cabinet Ministers, not to mention the hundred or so Presidential Guardsmen protecting the President from protesters and other potential threats. He inspected the Chiquiti Dojeme Hospital, the main medical centre servicing the city, where Ordlandic medics have been working for weeks, and Bowdani engineers have laboured to upgrade the hospital's weakened physical structure, its electrical cabling and the water and waste piping. The President attended a lunch at the hospital, during which he heard several brief talks from Ordlandic medics about their experiences and the problems they faced.

President Okarvits then gave a brief speech of his own, stating that he had allocated Û40 million for a major "rebuilding" of the hospital, including the addition of a new wing. The President also heard from Fenizic engineers who told of the water boring they had done in the west of the region. Bowdani engineers then told the President about the city's water and waste pipes, their condition, and the massive work effort to upgrade and repair the pipes, involving more than six thousand labourers.

Bowdani's Dr Heince lead the speakers, before leading the President to personally inspect the city's new water purification plants, almost complete, with thousands more workers working on them. Utanian and Bowdani military engineers showed the President a pipe junction they had added to the city's complex web of pipes, where wastewater would flow through to the new treatment plant, before flowing into the Chiquiti river.

It was a warm, but pleasant day. Sunny, but only reached a top of 28*C. This appeared to encourage the protesters who had a brief opportunity to speak with the President at a medical clinic in the city's west, and demand further funding for jobs, regional development, and for his support for a fifth autonomous state to be created in Utania, Chiquiti, a demand that has been raised before. To his credit, the President guaranteed development funding, said work programmes were coming, and stated he had no objections to the creation of Chiquiti State.

This latter statement privately angered Governor Hubert Artos, who succeeded President Okarvits as Peoples Party Governor of Utani B'yan state, who down-playing the President's remarks as ones of "obvious exasperation about the whole issue". Governor Artos opposes what he terms "unnecessary declarations of independence" and break-up of the state he governs. Yet 800,000 Chiquiti living in the area largely support limited autonomy, as do Kanharan and Tuaman Utani in the state's west.

Labourers who have been supporting the international teams have been receiving Û30 each day, which translates to Û7,500 p.a. (C2,500), an excellent salary for unskilled work in the region. The cost has been of the order of Û18 million in such wages to date, money contributing substantially to the Chiquiti economy.

President Okarvits thanked the international teams at a thanksgiving dinner that evening, where he met dozens of Fenizic, Bowdani and Ordlandic medics and engineers. He spent some time later with Dr Heince, and the other mission team leaders to hear of their concerns, before boarding a military helicopter at 8:30pm bound for the airport, then Utan Krysaror where he arrived at 11pm.

There were few reports of nuisance value from the presence of the Presidential Guardsmen who patrolled the streets and maintained some checkpoints close to the hospital, though some international workers were temporarily prevented from attending the dinner, and some protestors complained of being roughly handled by the Guardsmen.

©UPA, 301 AP.

©Mike Ham, 2001. All rights reserved. No reproduction without, at least, tacit approval. ;-)
NB; A Christianan Crown (C) translates roughly to the USD.
The Û (Utanian Pund) is one third the value of a Crown.