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The latest article in Stabroek News pertaining to the building of the new Demerara River bridge (EPA in no position to rule out impact survey for new bridge over Demerara – SN 12/24/2021), further increases the worry amongst some of us in the Nandy/Republic Park area that the government intends to build the bridge without technical due diligence, established legal processes, and most egregiously without consulting and getting input from the residents.
Editor, the Chairman of the Neighbourhood Democratic Council offered a no objection to this project without meeting with the community and more appallingly, without the benefit of a bridge design. In other jurisdictions the entire council would be censured if not dismissed with extreme prejudice. The Minister of Public Works was also quoted as saying that the no objection process is a “mere formality”. Are we now at a stage where citizens have no inputs in projects of this nature, scope and potential effect on communities? This comment is quite disturbing all by itself.
It boggles the mind that a project of this magnitude can be even considered without the benefit of an Environmental Impact and Social Assessment (EISA). How does the construction of the bridge affect our community in terms of noise, dust, drainage and other factors?
We are also told that the bridge will be based on the Build, Own, Operate and Transfer model and further that the pricing to utilize the bridge will not change significantly from what currently obtains at the Demerara Harbour Bridge. I now pay $200 Guyana dollars to cross the existing bridge. What madness is this?
Editor, these are not unreasonable questions. The process we seek and what should have been done is within the relevant legislation. Glib comments like ‘minimal effects’ on the community are not acceptable. It is also surprising that a government who has committed to the principles of transparency and inclusion are conducting themselves like this. We are not against development or progress. We however object to what appears to be an attempt to shove this project down our throat in the interest of expediency. We wish to urge now that a complete review of this project should be initiated with proper provisions for consultation and technical evaluations for the benefit and safety of all.