There will be no mass relocation of the residents of North Timehri as the new government pursues plans to expand the runway of the Cheddi Jagan Inter-national Airport (CJIA), Minister of infrastructure David Patterson has said.
During his presentation in Parliament on Friday last, as the debate of President David Granger’s address wound down, Patterson said: “On behalf of the government I’d like to inform the residents of Timehri North that [the] proposed expansion of the runway will be done without the mass relocation that was threatened by the previous administration. In fact Mr Speaker, no more than 15 houses may need to be relocated, and if this happens, required and suitable land close by will be found and developed for anyone dislocated. Plus Mr Speaker, assistance will be provided for this relocation.” Patterson said.
The CJIA expansion project had previously come in for criticism from the then opposition on the amount of money it was costing the Guyanese public as well as the fact that the previous government was demanding the relocation of some 1,500 residents of the area.
Minister of State Joe Harmon had told the public in December, while he was shadow Minister of Works, that while the opposition was in favour of a better airport, a longer runway, it wished to see value for money and the concerns of the residents of Timehri North addressed.
Patterson told Stabroek News on Friday that the demand of the relocation of some 1,500 residents was nothing more than wickedness on the part of the previous administration.
He explained that while restrictions will be placed on those farmers whose crops might attract birds his research has shown that there is no need for the mass relocation that was being demanded. “In addition to the runway there is need for a road and security fence. I instructed that layout of new runway be done and measurements be taken for the distance of the road and the fence… Within the identified area there are about 12-15 houses which would have to be relocated and everyone else will remain,” he said.
He added that “a portion of the land close by has been identified and government will be building the necessary infrastructure and giving them [displaced residents] support for them to be able to relocate.
The identified area is only about a half mile away from their current homes, so there is no major relocation.”