Over 400 house lots were distributed in a new Bartica housing scheme on Saturday during a ceremony which saw Minister Irfaan Ali and regional Chairman Gordon Bradford clash over the region’s role in the process.
A statement from the Government Information Agency on Saturday said that a ‘One Stop Shop’ was held in Bartica, Region Seven (Cuyuni/Mazaruni), which saw the distribution of over 400 houselots for the new Five Miles Housing Scheme.
Infrastructure for the scheme totalled $251M and the contract was divided into two lots: $138M and $113M and respectively awarded to BK International and Ivor Allen.
GINA said it was a ‘per household’ investment of more than $700,000 and a per capita investment of close to $180,000.
It added that this development will bring direct benefits to more than 1, 400 people. GINA said that the Ministry has in its system more than 800 house lot applications for Region Seven.
GINA said that the Ministry will commence discussions with the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) and the Local Government Ministry shortly to identify a new location for which additional funds will be sought to accommodate the remainder of the applications.
“Rest assured that this is not the end in terms of the housing development. This is just one aspect that would ensure that we meet the full housing demand here in Region Seven, particularly Bartica,” Minister Ali said, according to GINA.
GINA said that during his remarks, Regional Chairman, Gordon Bradford accused Government of not holding enough consultations with the regional authorities before allocating lands in the region.
Bradford said that while he had no objection to developments taken to the region, he feels that the regional authorities should be more involved.
GINA said that Ali strongly refuted this statement and argued that former Regional Chairman, Holbert Knights was involved in all aspects of the process, which was conducted in an open and transparent manner.
Ali added that the RDC was given a copy of the Bill of Quantities to help in the monitoring of the process, which is the standard procedure by which the Ministry operates.
“At the end of the day we have to serve people…staff from the Ministry came here on several occasions over the construction period, sometimes for as long as three days, and fully involved the RDC. We believe in working together at the Ministry of Housing and Water and we understand the role the various stakeholders play in the development of the various regions and communities. We will never allow ourselves to be driven by cheap politics,” Ali declared.
Ali said that the Ministry has proposed a Community Development Plan for Bartica and in this scheme, focus will be placed on the tourism and services sectors.
“We believe that this region has tremendous potential in the tourism sector but we need to develop our services so that we will have the right skill level and we could have an efficient services sector to propel the region’s tourism development”, Ali said.
He said that government is in the process of approving two massive investments in the tourism sector in Region Seven, one in White Water, where a developer is constructing a 25-room facility. He also referred to garbage collection problems.
“You cannot look to the future; developing a strong tourism sector and not deal with the garbage problem,” the Housing Minister stated.