Timehri North occupation will jeopardise airport expansion, says US engineer

-warns residents also at risk

While the Timehri North Community Development Council maintains assessments made by local engineers have proven that the community does not hamper the Cheddi Jagan Inter-national Airport (CJIA) expansion project, a US-based engineer has said that it does, emphasising also that it could pose significant danger to the residents.

Speaking to Stabroek News on the airport expansion, the engineer, who asked not to be named, said that based on what he has seen on Google Earth and read, residents of the Timehri North community will definitely be exposed to extreme danger.

“While I can’t speak specifically to the Guyana situation because I don’t know the details, from what is shown on Google Earth, the nose of the airplane would be facing the parking lot and one of the wings would moving along the area where the shops are… those would have to be removed,” he stated.

The engineer explained that like in any other country, inhabiting land near an airport poses serious risks, including health risks.

He noted that it would be anticipated that with a larger runway, larger aircraft will be facilitated, which will result in extreme noise pollution. In addition to this, jet fuel toxins, monoxide and carbon pose risks for cancer, respiratory and skin diseases.

Apart from the health risks, the engineer stated that rapid response is necessary in the case of an accident. “In the case of an accident, say the plane skids off the runway, it would go directly into the housing development and not only the lives of the persons in the plane will be threatened but obviously those living there,” he said.

Also, it was pointed out that international carriers should not have to come to an airport where security is threatened and no international anti-crime agencies would accept such standards, given the risks involved.

A report produced by the Federal Aviation Administra-tion (FAA) was also reviewed by Stabroek News in the light of the ongoing battle between the residents of Timehri North and the Government of Guyana, particularly the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, regarding the expansion project.

According to the FAA report, the primary responsibility for integrating airport considerations into the local land use planning process rests with local governments. However, addressing the issue over the years locally has been the National Community Development Council, which is headed by Philomena Sahoye-Shury.

Sahoye-Shury, in an interview with this newspaper, had refuted claims by residents that she had encouraged them to build sturdy structures on the land since it was envisioned that the airport would someday have to undergo expansion work.

The FAA report stated that there must be compatible land use planning in order to encourage land uses that are generally considered to be incompatible with airports, such as residential, schools, and churches, to locate away from airports and to encourage land uses that are more compatible, such as industrial and commercial use, to locate around airports.

“The objective of aviation-related land use planning is to guide incompatible land uses away from the airport environs and to encourage compatible land uses to locate around airport facilities,” the report said.

In the United States, according to the report, a guidebook is produced and focused on what is necessary for the development of compatible land use programmes. This is as a result of communication and cooperation as the “airport and community planning processes are intertwined.”

Meanwhile, Stabroek News yesterday contacted Chairman of the Timehri North Community Develop-ment Council Daniel Fraser, who said that there has been no word from ministry or National CDC officials.

In May 2012, residents were given a letter by the CJIA management reiterating that they were illegal occupying the land and ordering them to immediate vacate and remove any building or erections. “Failure to remove within 30 days of receipt of this notice will leave the corporation no choice but to take steps to remove you from the corporation’s land,” the letter, signed by CJIA Chief Executive Officer Ramesh Ghir, said. However, residents are resolute in their decision to remain on the land where they have built their homes although there were talks of compensation.

This publication was told that they would only agree to be relocated to a different section of Timehri North.

The governments of Guyana and China recently signed a US$130 million agreement to facilitate the financing of the airport’s expansion, which is to fully commence early next year.

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