Residents of Barnwell, East Bank Demerara, may soon be afforded some of the basic amenities—road, electricity and potable water—in their community as the Ministry of Housing and Water Central Housing and Planning Authority (CHPA) recently invited bids for a contract that will see infrastructure work in the area.
While the advertisement, which appeared in the Saturday edition of the Guyana Chronicle, did not give any description of the intended work it is believed that it would include providing basic amenities for the community that came into existence 20 years ago.
There are no roads – expect those carved out by residents; no electricity and no running water in the community. Those who can afford it run generators and use the now ubiquitous black tanks to store rainwater for use. Those who don’t have the means, use flambeaux, torches and candles; the canal running alongside the community serves their water needs.
Originally a canefield, Barnwell was later transformed into farmlands tilled by residents of Mocha Arcadia community. Some farmers later moved to where their farms were and over the years have been joined by a hodgepodge of Guyanese – some from as far away as the Pomeroon. Some have built solid homes, while some still live in shacks, but it is estimated that the population of Barnwell is now around 700.
Sometime around 2008, the CHPA began moves to regularise the area. It was divided into two communities—New Prosperity and Barnwell north. Housing Minister Irfaan Ali announced in January this year that the preliminary cost for basic infrastructure was estimated to be in the vicinity of $90 million and the beneficiaries would be required to pay a subsidised cost of $72,000 for a house lot in the area. The CHPA said there would be 86 house lots.