Proposed relocation site lacks basic infrastructure

– peeved Timehri North residents

Residents of Timehri North are peeved that the government and the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) Corporation are pressing for them to relocate to the proposed Yarrowkabra housing development which still lacks basic facilities.

According to AFC executive member Daniel Fraser, a Timehri resident himself, the proposed 350 acres that are to be transformed into house lots is not conducive to a social or economic life for people.

He pointed out that the Timehri North residents currently have livelihoods in their immediate area which provides them with an income.

Speaking at an AFC press conference yesterday, he said the plan to relocate residents to facilitate the CJIA expansion was not fully thought out. “It doesn’t speak to the social and economic life of the people as it is. Mr Benn [Minister of Public Works Robeson Benn] said… he has 350 lots at the back of Yarrowkabra. Nobody visited the area so they won’t know – but we are hoping in a short while to get some photographs to you – nothing has been done” on the 350 house lots, Fraser said.
He informed that the land lacked basic infrastructure including drains, electricity, telephone lines and water.

He continued that the board of the CJIA has not been in contact with residents and read from a statement which he said meant very little as it just spoke about relocation and working together, but that has not been the case.

Fraser noted that the multi-stakeholder committee, which was promised by the Housing and Transport ministries, has not been set up as yet to handle the situation properly. He said nothing has been done and residents are frustrated.

He warned that it was necessary for the CJIA board to meet residents to avoid future confrontations.

On Thursday, airport management and the board met to discuss holding an open forum shortly to speak with all residents affected by the airport expansion. Chairman of the CJIA board Ramesh Dookhoo told Stabroek News that there was a list of all residents that would be affected by the airport expansion and continuous contact had been made with them.

Dookhoo said the area was very large and the airport board and management were vested in ensuring that the people were taken care of. He said he did not wish to comment on who the AFC was speaking with. “All I want to see is that we treat the people fairly and that they are cushioned on any relocation,” Dookhoo said.

Two weeks ago, residents rejected the government’s official Airport Relocation Plan stating that they were never consulted. Benn had stated that 350 acres were being designated for residents to build their own houses and only the land would be provided. He had said the plan made allowances for necessities—in the future—such as a school and health centre.

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