The Ministry of Public Works yesterday stated that offers of assistance were made to farmers on the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Timehri (CJIA) reserve to no avail.
“The Ministry has been engaging farmers for several years… In fact, assistance was offered to expedite the application process for lands so that farmers would be able to maintain their livelihood on alternative locations. But despite these efforts many of the farmers continue to cultivate on airport lands – although they are aware these lands are crucial for the extension of the runway,” a release from the ministry stated.
The response comes in wake of farmers expressing worry that they would be uprooted permanently without due process following the destruction of some of their crops by the contractor for the CJIA expansion project.
“Without any notice, the Chinese people [employees of China Harbour and Engineering Corporation (CHEC)] come with they machines Friday and just start to grade down all our stuff… eddoes, all them bearing coconut trees, sour sop, sweet potatoes, cassava, papaw, cherry, de pear everything,” Royston Holder, a farmer who plants on the reserve told Stabroek News last Tuesday.
One of the farmers yesterday informed that CHEC workers returned to the site yesterday but there was no destruction of the remainder crops. He said that other areas were demarcated for surveys and the workers told them that they will await the maturity and reaping of their eddoes before undertaking further works.
Chairman of the Timehri North Community Development Council (TNCDC) Daniel Fraser told Stabroek News yesterday that he believes that the farmers should remain where they are as they were given approval years ago. He said that if the lands continue to be destroyed he foresees that there will be “a confrontation.”
The Ministry of Public Works’ release stated that, in collaboration with the CJIA, its objective has always been centered on communication and feedback, while pointing out that both verbally and through print farmers were given notice of the imminent need for their relocation.