City Engineer says plan approved for five-storey Camp & Robb Sts building

-Vice-Chairman of works committee differs

While the City Engineer says there is an approved plan for a massive five-storey building being erected at the corner of Camp and Robb streets, the Vice-Chairman of the City Works Committee, Anthony ‘Trini’ Boyce says he has seen none.

In an interview with Stabroek News, Boyce made a call for there to be an oversight committee to deal with the significant number of high rise buildings that are being constructed in Georgetown without having their building plans approved by the City Council.

Boyce was at the time referring to the five-storey building that is being constructed at  Camp and Robb streets.

A sign at the front of the building says ‘City Food Court’ but it is believed that the building will be a shopping mall with the bottom flat to be used for the food court. Camp and Robb streets is an already congested area and questions are being asked about where customers using the five-storey building will park. There is no allowance for parking in the construction.

The building at Robb and Camp Sts
The building at Robb and Camp Sts

“There was no building plan submitted to the City Works Committee. This is against the law but you have to remember the kind of people that we are dealing with… Something like this never came to City Works to show that it was going to be erected,” Boyce stated.

However when contacted, City Engineer Colvern Venture refuted these claims and told Stabroek News that the building does indeed have a plan that was approved before works commenced. He said that a building plan was submitted and approved by the full council and the Central Housing and Planning Authority.

Boyce explained that the proposed oversight committee would override the works of the City Engi-neering Department. “I asked for that but it is being refused. When I asked to do the oversight committee, they shelved that. This committee would be the last leg, after the city engineering department. So if this building is going up, with the oversight committee we don’t have to bother with the engineering department. We would do this by ourselves. The power that would be invested in the oversight committee they don’t want that,” he said.

“These buildings are not monitored by any serious body who can then deal with these buildings. They can only go up because they are allowed to do that. City Hall turns a blind eye”, he argued.

He explained that the process to erect such a building starts with an application. “You must make an application and your application will then be scrutinized by the city council and then you forward that with a survey plan. When you submit those and the necessary documents and you submit that to the city department and they send you to pay the processing fees and then you take it back and give that to them,” he said.

Drawn and pass plans

He said too that oftentimes, many persons start construction on a building and then submit their plans to the council. “They start building and everything and then their plans come for approval when these buildings done two years ago,” he said.

Boyce contended that most of the plans that are being drawn for the high rise buildings that are currently being constructed are `draw and pass plans’. “These are drawn by the engineer department. Some of these places when you go and ask for the building plan they tell you that it deh at City Hall, because they are drawing it and then they are going to pass it. Up to yesterday (Tuesday) we asked for a building structure with a plan and there was nothing,” he said.

“… They are going to bring plans for a little house or a fence but these monstrosities are not coming and these developments are going ahead with the understanding that Central Housing and Planning know about this”, Boyce contended.

He opined too that the fault oftentimes lies with contractors accepting jobs without seeing an approved building plan and a lot of these contractors not having proper qualifications to construct these buildings. “Ask them if they have permission to build these buildings. The contractors see these blatant breaches and they don’t say anything because they are getting paid. The developers show them the plan and they are not waiting to see if city hall approves or disapproves the plan and they just go ahead.”

With regards to parking for these buildings, he referred to Professor Akbar Khan’s Georgetown Deve-lopment Plan of more than a decade ago. “That plan provides for parking and it provides for the bottom floor of these buildings to be used for parking, but nobody listens to that.”

Only recently the building at Camp and Robb Sts had come under criticism after four workers were injured and subsequently taken to a private hospital for treatment. The Labour Department of the Ministry of Labour later said that it was not in receipt of any report from workers or relatives of any injured person attesting to the occurrence of an accident as was reported by the Stabroek News

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