Residents of Timehri North are maintaining their position that they will not be removing from the lands they occupy for the airport expansion project and on Saturday they called on government to meet with them to discuss the way forward.
About 100 persons from the community turned up at a meeting in Timehri North held by main opposition APNU to discuss the issue.
Residents stated that to date there was no dialogue between them and Minister of Transport Robeson Benn, who had said that they have to move. A dialogue, they said, must take place in order to arrive at a consensus on the issue.
Persons living near the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Timehri (CJIA) were asked to remove from the lands they occupied so as to facilitate the airport expansion project, which includes an extension of the primary runway to a total of 10,800 feet to accommodate large transatlantic aircraft, along with construction of a new terminal building, acquisition of eight boarding bridges, and installation of other state-of-the-art equipment.
A resident told Stabroek News that she has been living in the community for 16 years. She said she has received a notice informing her that she has to remove but no one came to her and asked her anything or told her anything about her moving. Because of this, the woman said, “if dem want to move us, they need to come to a compromise. They neva hold a meeting with we…”
The resident also stated that she expects to gain the support of everyone, regardless of the political party they represent, in addressing the issue and that is why she was at the meeting. She said the issue at hand is not about party politics but one that requires attention. For her, if government decides to move them, there must be a meeting with residents and the place they will be relocated to must be within a favourable distance to the airport because a lot of persons from the community are employed there.
APNU Member of Parliament Joseph Harmon told residents that his party is interested in the welfare of the people and if the government is going to expand CJIA, the people’s interest must be placed first. Harmon said that APNU will not sign off on any project unless the interest of the people is placed first, while adding that it is not concerned about the amount of money spent. He added that there is not a proper foundation as to why the people of Timehri North have to move.
Another resident said that she hopes to hear something positive from the meeting held by APNU because there is much speculation as to where they will be relocated.
The CJIA expansion work came to an abrupt halt after the opposition cut the entire sum allocated for it in this year’s budget.
The CJIA $5.35 billion expansion was cut from the budget estimates along with the rest of the Air Transport Programme budget, which included a $26.33 million final payment to the European Union for the Ogle Airport Aerodrome.