As controversy rages over the siting of the Plaisance signal tower, the Office of the Demerara/Mahaica Regional Democratic Council (RDC) yesterday announced that it has received a list of sixteen proposed sites for additional towers from the E-Gover-nance Project Director.
The E-Governance programme will see the establishment of over fifty towers along the coast of Guyana from Crabwood Creek, Berbice to Charity on the Essequibo Coast. When activated it is expected that residents will benefit from free internet access as part of the One Laptop Per Family (OLPF) initiative.
Regional Chairman Clement Corlette yesterday said in a press release that his office had contacted the project director and elicited the list.
The Region Four Council is advising residents that preparations are being made to convene community meetings within the areas identified for the erection of the e-governance project towers and said that the date, time and venues for the meetings will be announced shortly.
While stating that the attendance and participation of the residents of the specific communities was encouraged, the RDC is urging them to do so in a constructive and responsible manner.
Stabroek News understands that Beterverwagting (BV), Lusignan, Enmore and La Bonne Intention (LBI) are among twelve other locations selected, one of which is outside of the region.
This newspaper was told that works are currently underway at BV, where piles are being driven for the construction of a foundation for a signal tower, as well as Lusignan, where excavation of the foundation has been completed.
In light of the confusion caused by the government’s reported failure to include the Region 4 RDC and the Plaisance Interim-Manage-ment Committee (IMC) in consultations, Stabroek News contacted Project Director Alexei Ramotar who said that consultations have already been held for all of the locations sent to the RDC.
Angry residents of Plaisance on Sunday forced Minister in the Ministry of Finance Juan Edghill to abort a meeting on the tower, which according to Edghill was organized for the purpose of coming to an amicable solution to the problem. Edghill acknowledged that the community had not been consulted but maintained that there must be an attempt to find common ground.
The government however yesterday refuted claims that they did not include the local government organs in Plaisance.
In a statement the government said, “furthermore, the government has provided information to the effect that the local government organ was the entity to which the request for placement of the site was made.
The Plaisance IMC on two separate occasions, at statutory meetings in February and March this year deliberated on the matter and only after that signalled its approval.”
This despite the fact that a source within the IMC stated that its overseer, Kyron Williams informed them that once the letter came from the Office of the President it could not be stopped so it was not deliberated on by the committee when brought up at their statutory meeting.
During Sunday’s meeting Corlette also maintained that his office only received correspondence about the tower in Plaisance last Saturday, about two weeks after works on the tower’s foundation began. Chairman of the IMC, Seedath Persaud had also denied ever receiving any letter concerning the erection of the tower in the Plaisance Community Centre Ground.
Walter Willis, a government engineer assigned to provide technical assistance to the project as well as the E-Governance Project Director Ramotar had said that a decision had been taken to relocate the tower site from the ground to a still to be determined area. However on Sunday, Edghill said that Willis was not authorized to make such a statement on behalf of the government, suggesting that no such decision had been taken. Edghill did not address Ramotar’s statements although they were in line with Willis’
Edghill said that “government was prepared to sit and listen to issues and to find a compromise on the matter.” He said that the government remains open to dialogue with the community as they attempt to determine the way forward on the matter.
However residents at the meeting expressed anger that Cabinet Secretary Roger Luncheon said “I don’t believe I could contemplate another site identified as resolving the matter. Our intention in having the matter resolved is to have the matter resolved as planned,” during a news conference held last week.
The residents said that Luncheon’s statements indicated that the government’s intent on erecting the signal town on the Community Centre Ground was fixed. Considering these statements, they inquired of Edghill his intentions for engaging them yesterday.
Residents continuously posited that the only acceptable offer was for government to remove the tower from the Community Centre Ground. Asked if the government was prepared to accept this, Edghill failed to directly address the question.
This frustrated the residents who became unruly and swarmed Edghill effectively bringing an end to the meeting.